Baltimore County Digest

Baltimore County Digest

June 14, 2006

Schools won't get day off for Muslim holiday

The Baltimore County school board approved a calendar for the 2007-2008 school year last night that includes a day off for a Jewish holiday, but none for Muslim celebrations despite years of lobbying by the county's Muslim leaders.

Members of the Baltimore County Muslim Council have called for the school system either to cancel classes for two Islamic holy days or keep schools open for all celebrations except for federal holidays and those required by state law.

Eight school board members voted unanimously in favor of the proposal, stating that few students chose to miss school on Muslim holidays in previous years.

Muslim Council members said they were disappointed, but planned to continue to lobby school board members and officials.

A ruling of the state Board of Education stated that the school system cannot cancel classes for a purely religious reason.

Baltimore County school officials have said they began closing school on Jewish holidays under a previous superintendent because there were high rates of absenteeism among students and staff at some schools on those days.

An ad hoc committee of the school board that examined the school system's calendar earlier this year did not recommend that schools close on Muslim holidays. The approved calendar includes a day off for Rosh Hashana, but not Yom Kippur, which falls on a weekend.

In other business, the school board also approved contracts with the unions that represent principals, administrators and other managers, instructional assistants and secretaries, school nurses and transportation, cafeteria and maintenance workers.

The board also transferred four assistant principals to different schools and appointed seven other school administrators, and approved spending $864,595 to renovate Southwest Academy and Woodlawn Middle School. The money came from surplus funds from the renovation of Holabird Middle School.

Pikesville

Missing woman's car found

Detectives recently learned that a missing Pikesville woman's minivan was found in flames shortly after her disappearance, police said yesterday.

Police also renewed their request for information on the woman's disappearance last month, and said they are looking into whether human remains found last week in Owings Mills can be identified. Police said they suspect foul play in the disappearance.

Nina Tarkovskaya, 46, of the 100 block of Slade Ave. has been missing since May 20, when she left her home to purchase cigarettes, county police said. Her credit card was last used early May 21 at Maria's Restaurant Lounge & Carryout in the 11700 block of Reisterstown Road, police said.

The woman's green 1996 Toyota minivan was found burning about 3:20 that morning in the first block of Cockeys Mill Road in Reisterstown, according to police, who added that the fire appeared to have been intentionally set.

On June 7, two children who were walking in a wooded area near Tollgate and Pleasant Hill roads in Owings Mills discovered human remains.

The body is thought to be that of a white woman, age 40 to 60, 5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 7 inches tall, with a medium build -- a description similar to one given for Tarkovskaya.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 410-307-2020.

Nick Shields

Northwest

2 doctors sentenced for fraud

A psychiatrist with a practice in Pikesville has been sentenced to a year of home detention after pleading guilty to defrauding the Medicaid program of $200,000 by billing for services he never provided, the state attorney general's office said yesterday.

Roman Ostrovsky, 49, received a five-year sentence with all but a year in home confinement suspended, according to the attorney general's office. He also paid $250,000 at his sentencing Monday, and will be required to pay another $150,000 over the next two years, according to the office.

Also yesterday, the U.S. attorney's office announced that an Owings Mills doctor was sentenced this week to six months' home detention for health care fraud and conspiracy to distribute Demerol. Richard S. Schlesinger, 57, who operated a practice specializing in pain management, was previously ordered to surrender his license to practice medicine in Maryland, according to the announcement.

Countywide

Funding sought for homeless shelters

Baltimore County's Office of Community Conservation is seeking County Council approval to spend more money on homeless shelters because of what officials call an unexpected, substantial increase in the number of homeless families in the county.

The county would pay Community Assistance Network an additional $40,000 --$270,000 for the year -- for staffing and other expenses to keep the eastern Baltimore County shelter open through June. The council is to vote on the request Monday.

New fire engines dedicated

Baltimore County fire officials dedicated two new fire engines at the Garrison and Halethorpe stations yesterday.

The event also marked a project to install in firehouses systems designed to remove diesel exhaust. The county is spending $1.6 million, including $750,000 from a federal grant, on the project. Systems are in place or being installed at each of the county's 25 fire stations for paid firefighters.

Honeygo

School crowding bill to be pulled

A Baltimore County councilman said yesterday he is considering withdrawing a bill designed to address school crowding in the Honeygo area to provide time for a government task force to study alternative solutions.

County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina's bill would require the county government to turn down plans for new homes in Honeygo if their residents would cause local schools to exceed capacity by 15 percent.

Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to baltco.news@baltsun.com. Information should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the event.

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