- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2005

D.C. Public Schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey wanted to start the new school year personally by sharing a morning bus ride yesterday with four special-education students from the Rock Creek Academy. But Mr. Janey and his entourage rode alone because the students got on a bus just ahead of them.

“That wasn’t funny to us, not for an hour or so while we couldn’t find the kids,” said David Gilmore, the school system’s federally appointed transportation administrator. “Someone had created another order for a bus to go there.”

Denzel Boyd, 12, was among the students expecting to ride with Mr. Janey. But when the first bus arrived, the driver produced papers stating Denzel was supposed to be on his bus, said Denzel’s mother, Lisa Boyd.

“I had him get on,” she said. “This system is all messed up.”

Still, Mrs. Boyd said she was she excited to see the “famous” Mr. Janey on the bus, so she asked a staff photographer in the entourage to use her disposable camera to take a picture of them together.



“Ain’t nobody in the [neighborhood] going to believe this if I don’t have a photo,” Mrs. Boyd said.

School officials reported several other minor, first-day glitches in the system of 650 buses and 645 drivers and attendants covering 605 routes.

“We’re trying to track down another route now,” Mr. Gilmore said early yesterday. “We’re not clear if it got dispatched at all. Also, there was missed kid here and missed kid there.”

Mr. Janey said keeping children safe on buses requires “a lot of good common sense. There’s a system of procedures in place, and we have a lot of good experienced drivers.”

Beyond the minor transportation problems, the first day unfolded with few incidents.

“Things went pretty well,” said Roxanne Evans, a school system spokeswoman. “We didn’t hear about anything major. …I think we’re in pretty good shape this year.”

There were no reports of major security problems yesterday, the day Hawk One Security Inc. took over the security contract.

Some school officials were concerned this summer about the company’s financial health because some paychecks had bounced. Company officials said the problem was an accounting mix-up and that the company’s finances are in good shape.

Under the new security plan, the Metropolitan Police Department will oversee school security this year for the system’s 59,885 students in 167 schools.

Assistant Police Chief Gerald Wilson, who oversees school security, said the first day went well. He said, however, that students at some schools, including Cardozo High School in Northwest, waited in long lines to pass through metal detectors in the morning.

“It’s still early, but I feel like the staff really put their best foot forward,” he said. “We have to continue to improve and refine some things.”

Chief Wilson said moving students through metal detectors faster without “sacrificing a thorough screening” is among his major objectives.

“You had folks in line being screened for the first time,” he said. “Through consistency and repetition, that process should smooth itself out.”

Yesterday was also an opportunity for D.C. fathers to take their children to school as part of the international Million Father March, a pro-family and fatherhood initiative created by the Chicago-based Black Star Project.

Phillip Jackson, executive director of Black Star Project, estimated that 200,000 fathers in 82 cities — including Auckland, New Zealand — will participate this year. However, organizers will not have final numbers until the end of the week.

“Fathers being involved is … like a miracle,” he said.

At Ballou Senior High School in Southeast, community organizers held a vigil to pray for a safe school year. A student was fatally shot in the school in February 2004.

About 70 people attended the “Hands Around Ballou” event, including mayoral candidate Michael A. Brown and representatives for council member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat.

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