Proposals issued on violent students in fear-ridden schools

September 28, 1994|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,Sun Staff Writer

Noting that the "fear of violence" permeates Maryland schools, a state commission yesterday recommended a statewide effort to make the public schools safer and more orderly.

The Governor's Commission on Disruptive Youth, appointed a year ago by Gov. William Donald Schaefer, made six recommendations. One of them would consolidate in the court system "all of the legal matters involving children, youth and families." For example, juvenile crime is handled in Juvenile Court, while cases of domestic violence go to the Circuit Court.

Behind that recommendation, according to commission members, is the recognition that violent families create violent students.

The commission's report noted that 23,000 students were suspended in the 1992-1993 school year for attacking fellow students or teachers, while 2,300 were kicked out of school for weapons and explosives violations.

"The media has captured the fear in the minds of people," said Del. Henry B. Heller, a Montgomery County Democrat who chaired the panel.

"We hope this report will be implemented, that it won't sit on the shelf," Mr. Heller said.

The report was presented to the governor at an emotional meeting of the state Board of Education in Baltimore. It was Mr. Schaefer's first -- and probably his only -- visit to the state board, all 12 of whose members he appointed. A new governor will replace Mr. Schaefer in January.

Mr. Schaefer said that while he was mayor of Baltimore, "we had a school for disruptive students in Carroll Park, but society said we couldn't do that."

The governor endorsed the commission recommendations but committed no new money to carry them out. "If there was a magic formula, I would have tried it. All of you would have tried it," he said.

Among other recommendations of the commission: Establish an interagency case-management process to refer chronic troublemakers to appropriate services; train teachers to be "sensitive to cultural and gender differences;" and develop a plan for keeping track of gang activities. The commission also would "link schools, communities, agencies and families to provide services to disruptive youth and their families."

Nancy Grasmick, state schools superintendent and a close friend of the governor's, presented him with a silver apple for his "service to the children of Maryland."

Mr. Schaefer, without mentioning by name the Republican candidate for governor, Ellen R. Sauerbrey, warned against wholesale budget cuts. "You don't take a hacksaw and hack a budget to pieces," he said.

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