News from around the Baltimore region

August 03, 2005


School board considers plan to settle bias case

Anne Arundel County school board members are reviewing a draft agreement that, if adopted, would settle a federal civil rights complaint filed last year by a group of black clergy, parents and community organizations.

Representatives of these groups plan to address the board about the document at its meeting today, said Gerald Stansbury, president of the county branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The agreement focuses in part on efforts to close the achievement gap between black and white students, a top goal of Superintendent Eric J. Smith's, said two sources close to the negotiations who asked not to be identified because it is a pending legal matter.

School board attorney P. Tyson Bennett said school board members could discuss matters that involve potential litigation in a closed session rather than a public meeting.

Bennett and Smith declined to comment on the possible settlement.

The complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation case. It alleged systemic discrimination against black students in areas such as discipline and course placement.

The civil rights groups also contended that black students are placed in special-education classes at a higher rate than white students.

In the early 1990s, a similar complaint alleged that blacks in Anne Arundel schools were too often categorized as special-education students, more harshly disciplined and more often placed in low-ability classes. Although the civil rights office found no violations in the special-education area, it did require sensitivity training for administrators and other measures.

- Liz F. Kay


Rapper gets 10 years for drug conspiracy role

A Baltimore County rapper who was convicted last year of conspiracy to distribute cocaine was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison.

In federal court in Baltimore, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis also ordered that Derrick Lenwood Powell, 21, of Woodlawn serve five years of supervised release when he is freed.

Powell was convicted Feb. 17, 2004.

Trial evidence showed that from September 2002 to July 2003, Powell and co-defendants Gregory Lamont Wilson, 30, of Catonsville, William Franco Heggins, 24, of Pikesville and Edwin Lloyd Murray, 22, of Cockeysville ran a crack distribution network based in the Randallstown area. Each has been convicted of drug-related offenses.

The group obtained raw cocaine from various suppliers from as far away as Georgia, then converted it into crack.

According to trial evidence, Murray, Wilson and Powell used the proceeds from their drug operation to open a record company called Big Business Records LLC in Woodlawn. Powell performed rap songs he wrote about the business of trafficking in illegal drugs.- Matthew Dolan


Young man fatally shot sitting on his front porch

A young man was shot yesterday afternoon while sitting on the front porch of an East Baltimore house and died a short time later at a hospital, police said.

The victim, believed to be in his early 20s and whose identity was withheld pending notification of relatives, was sitting alone on a porch in the 600 block of N. Curley St. about 1:15 p.m. when he was shot in the chest by an unknown assailant, police said.

He ran into a nearby alley and collapsed. He died about 15 minutes later at Johns Hopkins Hospital, police said.

Anyone with information was asked to call homicide Detective Mark Veney at 410-396-2100.

- Richard Irwin


Water main break affects E. Cold Spring Lane blocks

A water main break on Cold Spring Lane yesterday blocked traffic, damaged the street and cut off water to about 100 area homes, officials said.

The break occurred about 3 p.m. on a 12-inch water main at the 800 block of E. Cold Spring Lane. For hours, water gushed downhill, peeling asphalt off the road and leaving about three blocks of residents without water, said Kurt Kocher, a spokesman for the city Department of Public Works.

Workers were trying to shut off the water early last night, while police blocked off the street from York Road to The Alameda. Because of damage, Kocher said, the street is expected to be closed throughout today.

- William Wan


Author praises county for natural resource protection

Baltimore County might be listed in a recent book with 18 other U.S. communities as a leader in protecting natural resources and the rural landscape, but actually is among the three best in the country, one of the authors said yesterday.

"If this were the Olympics, you'd be getting a medal," Christopher Duerksen told county officials and residents gathered at a morning ceremony to recognize the county's inclusion in the book Nature-Friendly Communities, published by Island Press.

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