When eighth-grader Qaira Butler sits in class at Robert Poole Middle School, she doesn't always concentrate on the three R's, her father says. Instead, she's worries about "Skinheads" and her safety after school.
"She's scared to death," said her father, Harrison Butler, 32, of East Baltimore.
"She's so scared she wouldn't come up here tonight. She said, DTC 'The Skinheads are going to get me.' "
"That's scared," Butler, who is black, said at a Parent-Teacher Association meeting at the Hampden school last night.
The meeting followed an apparently racially motivated attack on two black students by seven to 10 white teen-agers earlier in the day.
However, police said, there was no evidence that any members of the militant racial group known as Skinheads were involved in the attack.
No serious injuries were reported.
Yesterday's incident, the first since school started, was the latest in several cases of racial tension near the school over the years. Last November, two black students were attacked by several white children led by a 21-year-old man. Four years ago, nine students were injured in a fight that broke out at a school picnic.
The school, in the 1300 block of W. 36th St., has 750 students, 51 percent white and 49 percent black. Most of the black students ride Mass Transit Administration buses.
About 8:30 a.m. yesterday, police said, a group of whites hid in an alley near 36th Street and Falls Road, a few blocks from the school, waiting for black students to get off MTA buses.
They began chasing some black students as soon as they got off a bus, police said.
Police said one student was hit in the face.
Mustafa Nicholas, 13, said that after leaving the bus, he and a friend, Robert Frazier, 12, were confronted by the teen-agers. "They came at us and started throwing punches," he said.
"They hit [Frazier] in the back of the head," he said. Mustafa said he escaped and was not injured.
Police arrived and took control but not before a school security officer was hit by a rock. The security officer was unhurt.
Police charged a 15-year-old white male as a juvenile with two counts of assault. He was being held at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Cub Hill. Six girls were charged with being delinquent and were released to their parents' custody.
Agent Arlene Jenkins, city police spokeswoman, said there was a racial overtone to the incident. "Racial epithets were made during the assault," she said.
Principal Mary H. Silva emphasized the school was safe and the attacks occurred off school grounds.
Still, many parents, including Mustafa's mother, Rochelle Nicholas, 36, were upset and said last night they were concerned for their children's safety.
They said they wanted increased police patrols and didn't want their children staying after school.
A police patrol car from the Northern District is supposed to watch the school each weekday, but parents say that doesn't always happen.
Rochelle Nicholas said she planned to drop her son off at school until he feels safer and she sees more police. "I can't have him being afraid to come to school," she said.
"It's the first time it's happened to me," Mustafa said. "I'm very afraid. I wouldn't want it to happen again."
Silva said someone called and warned the school Wednesday night that there would be trouble between blacks and whites. She took the call seriously and informed school police because of past racial tensions. They notified city police.
At the meeting, Charles Knott, 37, said yesterday's attack stemmed from a fight 16 days ago between whites and blacks.
He said if proper action had been taken then, yesterday's attack could've been avoided.
Some parents, like Sandy Vitale, 36, of Hampden, said Hampden isn't racist. "It's the media and outside agitators," she said.
Parents said they were upset their children weren't allowed to phone them about what happened.
Butler suggested a solution. Last year, to protect students from possible harassment in the area, students were told to board MTA and yellow school buses on school property after school, rather than linger in the neighborhood.
Butler told Silva he would feel safer if the MTA dropped off the students in front of the school in the morning as it does in the afternoon to avoid neighborhood trouble.
"If anything happens to my daughter, I'll go crazy," he said.
A petition is to be written and given to students for their parents' signature to implement Butler's idea.