Disruptive middle-schoolers may be put in special programs Task force proposes plan to school board

June 19, 1992|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Staff Writer

Hundreds of Baltimore's most violent middle school students would be placed in special programs run by the school system and private operators, starting as early as this September, under a plan given to the city school board last night.

That proposal is part of a detailed plan for dealing with disruptive middle school students, who accounted for nearly 60 percent of all suspensions and more than 1,000 crimes in the 1990-91 school year.

If approved by the board, the plan would separate up to 200 of the most violent students into the programs next year, offering them intensive counseling and other services.

The first such program is expected to be Foundation for Youth Impact, a private, non-profit organization located at an annex to William H. Lemmel Middle School.

The school system already has set aside $500,000 to pay for an alternative middle school in its proposed 1992-93 budget. The publicly-run program, which would accept 60 students, is projected to cost $371,306.

In addition, the school system plans to seek bids from private providers who would set up at least one or two other programs, intended to handle 50 to 60 students each.

Officials also plan to move ahead with programs intended to identify students who are prone to disruptive behavior, and to prevent violence before it starts.

"I believe we're going to make a dent, especially if we begin with our preventive model," said Lillian Gonzalez, deputy superintendent, who headed a 31-member task force on the issue.

Although the most intensive services would go to a relatively small group of students, "they have been identified as students who are causing some of the major problems," she said.

The task force was formed after a school police officer was shot at Roland Park Elementary-Middle School in February, igniting citywide concern about school violence.

The shooting initially prompted Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to call for a special middle school for the most violent students.

The school system already has a special alternative school for older students, the Francis M. Wood secondary center. But it has no such program for middle school students, generally between 11 and 15 years old.

While the task force urged immediate action on the most violent students, that part of the proposal would deal with only a fraction of the disruptive students in the system.

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