Berger gets support from principals as uproar continues BALTIMORE COUNTY

July 02, 1993|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

Baltimore County principals entered the furor that will not die yesterday -- announcing their support for Superintendent Stuart Berger and the changes he is orchestrating.

"We support the changes implemented during the last school year and those which will begin today -- the first day of the 1993-1994 school year," said George Dausch, the new principal at Chesapeake High School, who read the group's statement at an afternoon news conference at Loch Raven High School.

It was the second news conference of the day -- and the fifth of the week -- called by groups weighing in for and against the school board and Dr. Berger.

At noon, under the trees outside school department headquarters on North Charles Street, representatives of three parents' groups reiterated their criticism of the administration and said the decision by Rosalie Hellman, the school board president, to step down next week is not enough to satisfy them.

"Overwhelmingly, parents believe that Rosalie Hellman's announcement that she will not continue as president of the school board is only the first step in what must be a longer process of removing all members of the current board and

dismissing the superintendent as quickly as possible," said Irene Spencer, president of the Learning Disabilities Association of Maryland.

She was joined by Aime Rudolf of the Parent Teachers' Association at Chatsworth School, one of the county's five special schools for children with disabilities, and Shirley Giberson, founder of PRIDE, a parents group that has noisily opposed Dr. Berger on a variety of issues.

Ms. Spencer said that by mid- July, parents of disabled youngsters will file a class action suit to block transfers of their children from special education centers to neighborhood schools.

The group has raised about $18,000 of the $25,000 it needs for legal fees, she said.

Meanwhile, school administrators said the unrelenting criticism from teachers, parents and community leaders had brought them togetherfor their hour before the microphones.

"The message that we're trying to send is we're supporting the superintendent and the board. We're trying to transmit the message . . . that all is well in the Baltimore County public schools," said Stephen Ponzillo, principal of Ridgely Middle School.

More than 100 principals and assistants attended the event, which they said grew out of a yearly retreat for principals last week. They were not coerced or prompted by anyone to hold the meeting, and Dr. Berger did not know about it, said Raymond Gross, principal of Hereford High School.

Besides supporting their boss, the principals said they hoped to restore the confidence of students and parents.

"The changes are not unique to Baltimore County schools," said Stella Holmes, principal of Sandy Plains Elementary. "These changes are taking place all across the country. When change takes place, it has its difficulties."

The principals declined to talk about the more than 30 administrators who are being demoted, saying it would be inappropriate because of pending lawsuits.

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