Drop Patterson takeover plan, protesters ask

June 02, 1994|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Sun Staff Writer

A handful of protesters yesterday asked state officials to reject a plan allowing a private Maine boarding school to operate Patterson High, but they feared that the privatization move was a "done deal."

"Parents, teachers and community members have a more vested interest in the school than does a company from out of town," said Letty Herold, of Citizens Against Privatization.

The group is battling the proposal by the Hyde School of Bath, which stresses character-building and parental involvement.

Ms. Herold, the mother of a Patterson 10th-grader, said she was disturbed that Hyde officials were at the East Baltimore school yesterday to promote their program.

"The Hyde School made its presentation in front of our children as if it was a done deal," she said during a news conference outside the State Department of Education headquarters in downtown Baltimore. Fewer than a dozen people appeared to be present for the event.

Patterson and Frederick Douglass High had been threatened with state takeovers because of worsening academic performance, attendance and drop out rates. The state accepted a plan to make improvements at Douglass, but rejected the Patterson proposal, which called for a housecleaning of teachers and administrative staff.

Later, Dr. Walter G. Amprey, the city school superintendent, negotiated a five-year contract with Hyde to operate Patterson. That agreement is part of the plan to be submitted today to a panel of educators and state officials.

The plan will be sent to Maryland school Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick. A decision by Dr. Grasmick on whether to allow Hyde to operate Patterson is expected by the middle of next week, said Ronald Peiffer, a state schools spokesman.

The protesters at state schools headquarters yesterday delivered a letter to Dr. Grasmick asking her to reject the Patterson proposal. They said parents, teachers and community members have not been included in plans to reform the school.

They were flanked at the news conference by City Council President Mary Pat Clarke and 1st District City Council representatives, who supported the group's efforts to become more involved.

Group members carried a list of 15 items that they hope to develop into a plan of their own, but acknowledged that it would be difficult to come up with an alternative proposal before the state decides.

Earlier yesterday, some of the protesters gathered at Patterson to complain about Hyde's presence there.

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