Attacks raise new fears over student safety

Girl, 12, stabbed at Steuart Hill

10th-grader shot near Walbrook


A 12-year-old girl was stabbed by a younger female classmate, and a high school student was shot in separate incidents yesterday that again raised concerns about violence and whether students are safe in Baltimore schools.

A 10-year-old was being held in the stabbing at Steuart Hill Academy, accused of using a steak knife to attack a pupil who had been taunting her. At the Walbrook High School campus, students were locked inside their classrooms after a 10th-grader from another school was shot in the back a short distance away.

Neither of the injuries was considered life-threatening, police said.

In a third incident, police arrested four teenage males about 3 p.m. after a disturbance outside Edmondson High School and charged them with disorderly conduct. No serious injuries were reported.

FOR THE RECORD - Because of incorrect information provided by city police, an article in yesterday's editions on violence in Baltimore schools incorrectly identified the high school attended by a student accused in the stabbing of a 15-year-old Thurgood Marshall High School student Tuesday evening. The student had transferred from Patterson High School to Harbor City East on May 11, according to city school officials.
The Sun regrets the errors.

The incidents come amid community concerns about an upswing in violence at Baltimore schools and fears that the problem will grow worse this fall, when students from rival gangs are to be moved to the same campuses in several areas.

"There has been an increase in violence in the past couple weeks as the temperature gets warmer and kids are not going to school, hanging out around the building," said Patricia Ferguson, chair of the Baltimore Teachers Union's safety committee.

School system officials sent crisis counselors to Steuart Hill yesterday. They vowed a crackdown on school uniform policies in the three high schools in the Walbrook complex, in an effort to prevent outsiders from getting in. Students will be required to enter and leave through one entrance.

Meanwhile, parents clamored for improved school security.

"This school doesn't have any security," said Michelle McBride, whose kindergartner attends Steuart Hill, a combined elementary/middle school. "That doesn't make any sense. There are too many students in the school. I'll give it to the principal and teachers. They try, but there is only so much they can do."

At a school board meeting Tuesday night, parents, students and politicians implored officials not to proceed with plans to move the Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts, a high school, to the same campus as Calverton Middle School and Lafayette Elementary. They said students at the Southwestern High School complex, where Augusta Fells Savage is now located, and Calverton pupils belong to rival gangs. Similar concerns have been expressed in other areas as the school system moves to consolidate schools with low enrollment.

For the school year as a whole, city schools police Chief Antonio Williams said violent crime has declined substantially. For example, he said there have been 86 fires so far this school year, compared with 209 for the same period last year.

But Ferguson said part of the drop in crimes stems from a decrease in reporting. In a survey conducted by the union this year, 66 percent of the teachers who responded said incidents in their schools go unreported. Ferguson said schools are not reporting incidents for fear of being labeled "persistently dangerous" under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Incidents are not counted if they occur off school grounds. Early Tuesday evening, city police said, a 15-year-old Thurgood Marshall High School student was stabbed by a Patterson High School student in a strip mall across the street from his school.

Yesterday's violence began about 7:40 a.m. when two girls - one 12 and one 10, but both in fourth grade - got into a fight in the hall outside a classroom at Steuart Hill. Williams said the younger girl used a steak knife with a blade about 6 inches long to wound the older girl in the left arm, shoulder and upper chest.

The 10-year-old was in custody last night and was charged as a juvenile with first-degree assault and possession of a deadly weapon, Williams said. He said police were investigating how the girl obtained the knife.

The 12-year-old was taken to the pediatric unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Williams said her injuries were not life-threatening.

He said the incident was the second significant stabbing at a city public school this year. The first occurred at Reginald Lewis High in February, when a 15-year-old stabbed a 16-year-old in the chest after school.

Tremon Hughes Boulware, a classmate of both girls, said he heard them screaming at each other. The 10-year-old was fed up with being taunted by the older girl, he said, and the next thing he remembers, his teacher came flying around the corner to the hallway where he was standing with classmates yelling instructions.

"We were on our way upstairs, and I heard [the teacher] say, `Somebody call 911,'" Boulware said. "Then I saw [the 12-year-old] holding her arm out and blood was just dripping."

Boulware's mother, Cheryl Hughes, said she was pulling her son out of class for the rest of the week because of the effect that witnessing such a violent event might have. "You don't know what kind of mental stage that can put your child in," she said.

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