Death threat reward grows

Education board adds $15,000 for leads on letter to schools chief

Fund at $19,500

March 28, 2000|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

The Anne Arundel Board of Education announced last night a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the author of a racially charged death threat against county schools Superintendent Carol S. Parham.

Board President Paul Rudolph made the announcement before the start of a board workshop on special education. Members had met earlier in executive session to discuss the threat made last week after Parham's decision to bus pupils from southern Anne Arundel County to Annapolis.

"The board is very concerned about Dr. Parham's security," Rudolph said. "We are outraged that anyone in our county would make such a threat."

The board's offer brings the reward fund to a total of $19,500, including $4,500 announced earlier.

RESPECT, a coalition of black community organizations, yesterday posted a $2,500 reward in the case, and the county NAACP offered an additional $1,000. Last weekend, Mayo civic groups offered a reward of $1,000.

"RESPECT was created to celebrate our diversity, and we deplore such racial threats on the lives of our public officials," said Clemon H. Wesley, co-chairman of RESPECT, which also includes the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and the United Black Clergy.

Lt. Jeffrey A. Kelly, a county police spokesman, said yesterday that hate crime investigators were following up on the "few" tips that came in on the case over the weekend.

Parham, who is black, has been receiving police protection since March 21 when she notified county police of the letter. The typed note contained several racial epithets and a specific threat of death, police said.

The impetus for the letter was Parham's plan to relocate Mayo Elementary's 340 pupils to an empty wing at Annapolis Middle School while their new school is built, police said.

The plan, announced Feb. 17, was met with criticism from many Mayo parents who say their main objection is the school bus travel time. But some residents in the predominantly white community expressed concerns about the racial makeup of Annapolis Middle School, which has a large minority enrollment.

A group of Mayo parents opposed to the busing plan have decried the death threat and racist slurs against Parham. The group -- which has appealed the plan to the county school board -- contributed to the reward fund last weekend along with nine other civic associations on the peninsula.

Robin Greulich, a leader of the parents' effort, said yesterday that she was pleased to hear the reward fund had grown.

"The larger the reward, the better chance we have of finding whoever did this," Greulich said. "We're hoping the investigation moves forward quickly."

Last weekend, Mayo parents went ahead with a scheduled "Family Fun Day" to raise money toward the legal expenses of the appeal.

"It put no damper on the Fun Day whatsoever," said Kerrie Flaherty, another parent involved in the appeal effort. "Of course, all everybody was talking about was, `Who could possibly do this?' "

Anyone with information about the death threat may call Annapolis Crimesolvers at 410-267-8888, or Sgt. Craig Korvin, the lead investigator on the case, at 410-222-8656.

To contribute to the RESPECT reward fund, mail checks to RESPECT, 153 Mayo Road, Suite 204 Edgewater 21037.

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