City / County Digest

CITY / COUNTY DIGEST

June 29, 2007

City schools receive nearly $6 million in federal grants

The Baltimore school system was awarded two federal grants this week. One worth $4.8 million is to be used to reduce the number of students dropping out and joining gangs; another, worth $1 million, is to train history teachers.

The $4.8 million grant, announced yesterday, will be used over two years for programs designed to reduce the city's violence and dropout rates and to cut gang involvement among students in grades eight through 12. The grant requires the system to provide work experience and internships for out-of-school juvenile offenders.

The other grant, from the U.S. Department of Education and worth $1 million over three years, will allow the school system to work with nearly 50 museums and historical sites to create lesson plans.

For three years, starting next year, 30 of the city's best history teachers will be selected annually to attend a two-week summer institute, where they will work on the curriculum.

Sara Neufeld

Harford County

: Whiteford

Animal-cruelty trial of woman is delayed

The scheduled start of the trial of Donna Lee Bell, who faces animal-cruelty charges after 118 animals were found in her two Harford County houses last year, was postponed yesterday.

A new trial date for the 60-year-old former Whiteford resident has not been set. Judge John Dunnigan said yesterday that a report required for the case to proceed was not available. Bell's lawyer, Leonard Shapiro, would not specify the contents of the report, but he said it related to the defendant's mental health.

Bell has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 118 charges of animal cruelty.

Madison Park

Baltimore County

: School scare

Community service ordered after threat

Two teenage girls linked to a bomb scare last month that forced the evacuation of Sudbrook Magnet Middle must each perform 100 hours of community service and write a 1,000-word essay about how their actions affected students and families at the school, according to an attorney for one of the girls.

Their essays also must address the effects of the Virginia Tech massacre on students and victims' families. In the Sudbrook incident, at least one of the girls sent a text message referring to the recent violence at the university and describing plans for a shooting at Sudbrook.

The girls' punishment, which was ordered yesterday in juvenile court, also includes supervised probation for an unspecified time, and each girl must undergo a psychological evaluation, said attorney A. Jai Bonner, who represented one of the girls.

The girls were arrested on explosives counts after a threatening note -- and a container of liquid found in the locker of one of the girls -- led to the evacuation and early closing May 3 of the school in Pikesville. No explosive materials were found at the school that day, county police said.

Gina Davis

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