Gilman resumes ties with Lancers Club

Student's remarks led school officials to suspend relations

May 11, 2000|By Kurt Streeter | Kurt Streeter,SUN STAFF

Three months after suspending ties with Lancers Boys Club after a student's allegation against the club's founder, retired Judge Robert I. H. Hammerman, North Baltimore's Gilman School has resumed its ties to the organization.

"After careful review of the situation we believe that Gilman should now renew its relationship with the Lancers," Headmaster Archibald R. Montgomery IV wrote in a letter sent yesterday to parents of Gilman students.

Gilman denied the club use of its facilities in February, after a senior said during an assembly speech that Hammerman had given him inappropriate glances while they showered after a round of tennis four years ago at the Johns Hopkins University.

Hammerman has denied any improprieties.

The club, known for its civic activism, has used the school's facilities for years, and many of its members have come from the all-boys' school.

Montgomery could not be reached yesterday for further comment, and the head of the school's trustees declined to elaborate on the letter.

Hammerman had little to add when reached last night, saying his feelings were summed up in comments he contributed to the letter. A statement attributed to the former Baltimore Circuit Court judge said that he is "pleased that the matter has been resolved" and "satisfied that Gilman has pursued the matter properly and responsibly."

"Over the years, Gilman has been very generous to the Lancers Boy Club," Hammerman said in the letter. "We are grateful for this and look forward to continuing this relationship."

The 17-year-old's speech startled an audience that included Hammerman, 71.

In a letter to Hammerman after the speech, school officials wrote that "a hiatus" would be required for Lancers activities at Gilman until the matter could be reviewed. The club was not allowed to use the school during that time.

The move angered some Gilman parents, who said that severing ties with the organization, even for a period of review, was too strong a reaction and tarnished the reputation of Hammerman, a revered judge closely tied to many of the city's most powerful people. Other parents said the decision was prudent and wise.

In March, Montgomery announced he was quitting his post in 2001. While saying he hoped to find another job as a headmaster, Montgomery insisted the decision to leave one of the city's most prestigious schools had nothing to do with the Lancers dispute.

Yesterday's letter said that Gilman officials were satisfied that Hammerman and other Lancers representatives now have a "heightened awareness and sensitivity to the concerns that were raised." The letter stated that the Lancers have agreed to follow policies that are consistent with those set forth in Gilman's student handbook.

Asked to elaborate on the policies in the handbook, and on the entire matter, Stephen Scott, president of the Gilman trustees, said: "I'm familiar with the letter, and the letter speaks for itself."

The letter acknowledged that "the situation was potentially detrimental to the Lancers, a club that has done a great deal of good for the community and our students, and to Judge Hammerman." Montgomery said the school's process for reviewing senior-year speeches "did not function properly in this instance. We regret any resulting effect on the feelings and reputations of Judge Hammerman and the Lancers."

Lancers alumni include some of the most successful men the city has produced, among them former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who was mentored by Hammerman. The club recruits youths from high schools across the city.

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