Plan to move pupils dismays many parents

October 10, 2001|By Stephanie Desmon | Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

Hundreds of parents - enraged about the closure of Hawthorne Elementary School after a recent asbestos contamination incident-took their anger to a meeting last night where school officials were to explain plans to move pupils to other schools.

"We want answers, we want answers," they chanted at high-ranking Baltimore County school system administrators as the meeting at nearby Middlesex Elementary turned chaotic.

Hawthorne Elementary in Middle River has been closed since Oct. 1 after a construction accident released asbestos into the air. The school's 535 children will be moved to two other schools beginning Monday. The youngest ones will go to Middlesex, a mile away, while those in grades two to five will travel eight miles to Battle Grove Elementary.

"If something happens at this school, they can walk home," shouted Michelle Hicks, mother of a Hawthorne fifth-grader. "They can't walk home from Battle Grove. I am not willing to relocate her to a different school in a different environment."

"We want to work with you," replied Deputy Superintendent Christine M. Johns. "We want to get your children back in school."

Hawthorne's principal, Barbara Clark, also tried to reassure parents, telling them their children will be safe and their learning will continue at their new schools.

Donald Krempel, director of facilities, informed parents that the contractor, CJF Inc. of Towson, has been replaced by another firm, Craft Construction. Renovation of the 1954 building is expected to be completed by January.

Carol Stanat, who has two children at Hawthorne, said she is about to lose her job because she has had to stay home with her second- and fourth-graders.

Some parents worried because children will have to ride a school bus - which they have not had to do on a daily basis. Others said the closing of Hawthorne cut off needed after-school day care.

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