- The Washington Times - Monday, December 19, 2005

D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson said yesterday that she is looking into why a nonprofit tutoring group has been evicted from its only school site, adding that the blame likely lies with the D.C. public school system.

“It doesn’t make any sense for the schools to not continue to partner with Project Northstar,” said Mrs. Patterson, the Ward 3 Democrat who heads the education committee. “We’ve made inquiries, and we’ll see what we find out.”

The Washington Times yesterday reported that the principal of Lemon G. Hine Junior High School in Southeast has told officials of Project Northstar — a D.C. tutoring program — that they no longer could use the school’s cafeteria for weekly sessions because they had failed to file an annual building-use agreement.

The school system also said in a written statement that Northstar never had submitted an agreement during its 11 years at the school, but The Times published a copy of an agreement that had been signed by a school administrator in 2003.

Mrs. Patterson, who is running for council chairman, said yesterday that D.C. Public Schools has had problems keeping track of files, such as those for teacher certifications, and could have misplaced the agreement.

“User agreements are obviously required, but I have to say that DCPS has a pretty bad track record of keeping track of agreements like them,” she said. “It’s not out of the question that something was filed at some point, and now they can’t find it.”

Northstar officials said they first filed in June.

School officials said yesterday that a statement by Patricia Tucker, assistant superintendent of schools, that Northstar never had filed an agreement was an oversight and was not Miss Tucker’s fault.

Officials said they were able to locate an agreement, but that it had expired.

Peter Parham, chief of staff for schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey, said yesterday that Northstar officials had not allowed him sufficient time to review the matter.

In a letter to Northstar President Robert D. Evans, Mr. Parham said he “will make every effort to go back to the beginning … to sort out everything that has transpired and see what resolution and alternatives are available.”

Mr. Parham said school system staffers would meet early this week and then contact Mr. Evans and Brian Carome, Northstar’s executive director.

“As we all serve children and serve as examples for them, we should be able to be respectful in all matters, to mediate and reconcile our difference and, hopefully, find common ground,” he said in the letter.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting congressional representative, also requested that the two parties meet to resolve the issue.

Project Northstar was founded in 1989 by members of the D.C. Chapters of the Coalition of 100 Black Women and Concerned Black Men and lawyers from three local firms.

It serves about 200 poverty-level students once a week at six D.C. sites.

The program is funded by grants from local foundations and private and corporate donations.

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