- The Washington Times - Friday, September 3, 2004

Everything from maintenance to cafeteria operations is being reviewed at Eastern High School, where students spent another day Friday waiting for schedules that were supposed to be ready two days earlier.

Several top administrators from school headquarters had maintenance workers resetting locker combinations, posting safety signs and completing other tasks that should have been done well before opening day.

“We’re checking everything from administrative procedures, to safety factors, the cleanliness of the building, the availability of supplies — we’re checking everything,” interim school Superintendent Robert C. Rice told the Associated Press. He noted that experienced teachers and other staffers at Eastern failed to inform headquarters of potential problems with schedules and facilities.

“I’m surprised that there wasn’t more of an outcry about these basic services,” Mr. Rice said.

While schedule problems at Eastern delayed the school’s opening until Thursday, 146 other schools were opened with few problems. That led Mr. Rice to fire Eastern’s principal, an administrator and a school system staffer. The other problems surfaced after Assistant Superintendent Wilma Bonner was named acting principal.

“We’ll have the office open from 9 to 4 [today] and Monday for students who want to stop by and check their schedules, pick them up, make corrections and make revisions,” Mr. Rice said. By yesterday morning, 75 percent of the master schedules had been printed at school headquarters, and officials spent much of the day checking the paperwork.

Students spent the day in their homerooms working on writing assignments, filling out required forms and reading. Seniors were encouraged to visit guidance counselors to obtain information on college entrance exams.

“I’ve spent a lot of time sleeping in school since Wednesday,” said Ernest Smith, 15, a tenth-grader. School system officials said attendance yesterday was 560, compared to 665 Thursday. Projected enrollment for Eastern is 900, although an official count won’t be made until October.

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