- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2006


Charter school closings leave parents stranded

Hundreds of D.C. parents are scrambling to find schools for their children less than two weeks before classes begin after two charter schools closed this summer.

A resource center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education has logged dozens of calls from parents since the closing of the New School for Enterprise and Development in June and Sasha Bruce Public Charter School last month.

Charter school students who were uprooted by the recent closures are competing for the few open spaces with students from public schools. Schools run by the D.C. Public Charter School Board do not have any spaces available for middle and high school students. And a few of the schools run by the D.C. Board of Education have spaces.

Some schools with openings will not accept students from other charter schools if their curriculums conflict.

Cropp campaign ads attack opponent

The mayoral campaign of D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp today will begin airing a series of radio advertisements attacking challenger Adrian M. Fenty.

The ads, which officials with Mrs. Cropp’s campaign said will air on several stations, compare Mrs. Cropp’s and Mr. Fenty’s records on education, fiscal responsibility and senior care.

One ad criticizes Mr. Fenty’s care of a senior citizen placed under his watch by the court while he worked as a lawyer before his election to the D.C. Council representing Ward 4.

“As a lawyer Fenty was cited for failing to protect an elderly client,” the ad says. “An investigation said Fenty was ‘incompetent, negligent, or both.’”

The ads are the first in Mrs. Cropp’s campaign and a part of her push to garner support before the Sept. 12 Democratic primary.

A spokesman with Mr. Fenty’s office criticized Mrs. Cropp’s “negative tactics.”

“There are only 26 days left in the election, and our opponent is really desperate,” Alec Evans, a spokesman for Mr. Fenty, said. “This is just more of the same tired politics of the past. District voters are turned off by these negative tactics and the politics of anything goes.”

Thousands of students still need shots

D.C. parents are being urged to check their children’s immunization records before the first day of school.

D.C. Public Schools officials said about 2,500 students have not been immunized, or their parents have not submitted up-to-date records.

Officials said students who have not been immunized will not be permitted to attend school when classes begin Aug. 28.

To help parents, an immunization clinic will be held tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the ARC recreation center on Mississippi Avenue Southeast.



Party conventions set for board chairman

Two Democrats and two Republicans are vying to replace Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Sean T. Connaughton, who is expected to resign and take up an appointment in the Bush administration.

The parties are holding nominating conventions tomorrow to select candidates. The filing deadline for candidates has passed.

Sharon Pandak, 53, who served as county attorney for 15 years before retiring in 2004, will seek the Democratic nomination. Her competitor is Gary Friedman, 55, a Broad Run resident and director of a program for the homeless and victims of domestic violence.

The Republicans will choose between Supervisor Corey Stewart of Occoquan and John Gray, a Lake Ridge resident who ran unsuccessfully for the board in the 2003 Democratic primary.

Mr. Connaughton is expected to resign as chairman early next month.


Enforcement grows on two interstates

Expect to see more state troopers along Interstates 81 and 95 this weekend.

Virginia State Police are holding the second leg of Operation Air, Land and Speed today and tomorrow on the state’s busiest interstate highways.

Troopers will step up enforcement on all of I-81 and I-95 in Virginia — with roving patrols, radar and aerial speed enforcement.

Col. Steven Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police, said the public was appreciative of last month’s operation to catch speeders, drunk drivers and reckless drivers.

In four days, state police stopped more than 2,600 speeders, ticketed 365 reckless drivers and charged 10 persons with driving under the influence.

State police will conduct another crackdown next month.


Woman admits killing grandmother

A former southwestern Virginia woman has pleaded guilty to killing her 85-year-old grandmother.

A judge in Abingdon sentenced Sheree Blackwell, 56, to 30 years in prison on Wednesday.

She admitted smothering her grandmother, Elizabeth Maucotel, with a pillow at her home in April 2000.

Blackwell faced 40 years, but the judge suspended 10 years of the sentence as part of a first-degree murder plea agreement.

Blackwell had been living with her grandmother and acting as a caretaker.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis L. Godfrey said that investigators considered the death suspicious but that the autopsy did not yield enough evidence to file charges immediately.

She was arrested in South Carolina five months after the killing. Police said Blackwell confessed to a friend.

A psychiatric exam last year found Blackwell competent to stand trial.


Jury acquits teen in school bomb plot

An Albemarle County jury decided that a 13-year-old boy was not guilty of plotting a Columbine-style attack at two high schools.

The Wednesday verdict came in an appeal after a juvenile court judge in March convicted the boy, another 13-year-old and Alan Newsom, 16, on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to use an explosive device to destroy a school.

The three were accused of planning to plant bombs at Albemarle and Western Albemarle high schools and then have a shootout on school grounds.

But jury foreman Wesley Lewis said the panel reviewed all the evidence during four hours of deliberations and could not find any concrete proof of a conspiracy.



Drug ring member pleads guilty

A member of a large drug operation has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, the U.S. attorney’s office said yesterday.

Chet Pajardo, 38, conspired to distribute cocaine from about 1995 until February 2005.

Pajardo was one of 13 persons charged for their roles in the Rice Organization, described as one of the most dangerous and lucrative drug operations in Baltimore, according to a statement from prosecutors.

During Pajardo’s involvement in the conspiracy, the organization distributed and possessed with intent to distribute more than 150 kilograms of cocaine, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. has scheduled sentencing for March 8.

Prosecutors announced the indictment in February 2005, saying they had used the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute to bring the indictment.


Bicyclist injured in crash with vehicle

Public safety officials in Carroll County said callers helped identify a woman who was seriously injured yesterday morning when her bicycle collided with a motor vehicle.

The sheriff’s office said Jennifer Clayton, 38, of Westminster, was struck while on her bike on Route 84, about a half-mile north of Route 75 in New Windsor. Her identity was a mystery for more than two hours, until a broadcast of her description generated calls to authorities.

Officials said the vehicle involved in the accident was identified and remained at the scene.

Miss Clayton underwent surgery at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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