September 11, 2007

Schools scramble to staff buses in pay feud

The Baltimore school system was still scrambling yesterday to cover all of the bus routes left unstaffed by drivers involved in a pay dispute.

The bus contractor, Allied Transportation, covered 15 of its 32 routes yesterday, according to a statement from the city school system. The system permanently reassigned seven of the 17 other routes to another company. The remaining 10 routes were being covered temporarily by buses run by the school system and by other companies, as well as by taxis.

Neither system officials nor Allied Transportation would comment on the exact nature of the dispute, but drivers have said the contractor did not pay them.

Allied is in the first year of a five-year contract with the city schools and was responsible for providing transportation for about 450 students.

Sara Neufeld

Howard County

: Columbia

Boy, 11, takes a gun to school in backpack

Parents of students at a Columbia elementary school were notified yesterday that an 11-year-old fifth-grade boy took a pellet gun to school Friday in his backpack.

According to Patti Caplan, a spokeswoman for the Howard County school system, the boy showed the gun to other students before classes began at Phelps Luck Elementary School. They informed school officials, who confiscated the gun and detained the boy until a police officer arrived.

In a letter for distribution to parents yesterday, Phelps Luck Principal Pamela A. Akers said, "The student did not intend to use [the gun] to threaten or harm anyone and at no time was the safety of students in jeopardy."

Caplan said the boy was suspended, and police said he was charged as a juvenile with possession of a gun on school property. School officials have met with the student's parents and took "appropriate" disciplinary action, Caplan said. She did not give details.

Larry Carson


: Federal court

Man, 25, pleads guilty in fraud, identity theft

A 25-year-old Baltimore man pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identify theft, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Levon Caldwell acknowledged in a plea agreement that from August to November 2006, he and others bought at least $320,000 in retail goods and $220,000 in automobiles using credit accounts that were fraudulently opened in the names of at least 15 people, according to federal prosecutors.

One of Caldwell's co-conspirators, Nekia Hunter, bought credit reports stolen from a mortgage company, prosecutors said. Hunter then made fraudulent Maryland driver's licenses using the victims' information but bearing the pictures of Caldwell and others.

Caldwell is to be sentenced Nov. 21 and faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for the bank fraud conspiracy and two years in prison for the identity theft, according to federal prosecutors. Hunter pleaded guilty Aug. 17 and is to be sentenced Oct. 26.


: Barclay

Rowhouse fire victim identified

A city Fire Department spokesman released yesterday the name of the man who died after a rowhouse fire in the Barclay neighborhood early Sept. 1.

Albert Jones, 44, and an unidentified woman who survived were rescued by firefighters battling a fire that extensively damaged a three-story house in the 2100 block of N. Calvert St., said Chief Kevin Cartwright, the spokesman.

The single-alarm fire was reported about 3 a.m.

Jones suffered serious burns and smoke inhalation. He was taken by ambulance to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died a short time later, Cartwright said.

Richard Irwin

Harford County

: Aberdeen

School to mark 9/11 with Freedom Walk

St. Joan of Arc School in Aberdeen will mark the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with a Freedom Walk at 12:30 p.m. today.

The school's 205 students will walk down West Bel Air Avenue to Festival Park, joined by faculty and staff members, parents and Aberdeen Mayor S. Fred Simmons. The students will lead a program including patriotic songs, poetry and a flag ceremony.

Josh Dombroskie

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