Local Digest: 9 groups seek to open D.C. charters; officer shoots, misses

April 4, 2013
THE DISTRICT
9 apply to establish
new charter schools

Nine groups seeking to open new charter schools in the District will present their ideas at a D.C. Public Charter School Board hearing Monday.

The hearing is a chance for board members to ask questions before voting to approve or deny each application on May 20.

It is also the public’s chance to weigh in; community members can sign up to testify by calling the charter board at 202-328-2748 by 3 p.m. on Friday.

The nine applicants include eight local groups and one nationally known charter management organization, Connections Education, which is seeking to open a blended-learning high school in Ward 2.

Other proposals include three alternative high schools for at-risk students and two Montessori programs for younger kids.

Groups that win approval from the charter board could open as early as fall 2014.

The hearing is to begin at 6:20 p.m at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School at 1100 Harvard St. NW.

— Emma Brown

Officer fires at man during confrontation

A plainclothes D.C. police officer shot at but missed a man who authorities said pointed a gun at him in Northwest Washington on Wednesday night, according to a department spokesman.

Officer Araz Alali said members of the vice unit responded to a 911 call about a man armed with a gun in the 700 block of Tewkesbury Place, in the Takoma neighborhood two blocks from Coolidge High School.

Alali said the man ran after officers confronted him. During the short chase, Alali said the man pointed a gun at an officer. That officer fired, Alali said, but did not strike the gunman.

Alali said the man was arrested and a handgun was recovered. The suspect, Rouchell Chesson, 29, of Northwest, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and assault on a police officer, among other charges.

— Peter Hermann

School-closings suit goes to federal court

A lawsuit challenging the District’s plan to close 15 city schools, filed by activists in local court last week, will now be heard in federal court.

The transfer comes at the request of lawyers for the D.C. government, who asked Tuesday that the case be moved from D.C. Superior Court to U.S. District Court, according to court records. Such a move is allowable in cases alleging violation of federal law.

The school-closure lawsuit, filed by a coalition of activists organized by the community group Empower DC, argues that the city’s planned school closures would disproportionately affect poor, minority and disabled students. The complaint claims violations of several federal laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The case will be heard May 10 by Judge James E. Boasberg.

— Emma Brown

MARYLAND
Driver killed after rear-ending truck

An 88-year-old man was killed after he drove his car into the back of a flatbed tow truck on Kenilworth Avenue in Riverdale Park on Wednesday evening, police said.

The man, a Bladensburg resident, was headed south on Kenilworth Avenue near Good Luck Road when he collided with the truck, which had just picked up a disabled vehicle, said Riverdale Park Police Chief David Morris. He said the case appeared to be one of “driver error.”

The man’s name had not been released on Thursday.

— Matt Zapotosky

VIRGINIA
Ex-teacher convicted
on porn charges

A former special education teacher at a Chantilly elementary school was convicted on child pornography charges Thursday in federal court in Alexandria, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Robert Fenn, 27, of Herndon taught at Poplar Tree Elementary School and gave private music lessons to children in their homes before he was arrested on related state charges in June 2012, the office said.

Fenn was convicted of one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography, the office said. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Fenn was identified through an international initiative spearheaded by Italian law enforcement that investigated a Web site offering access to pornographic images and videos of children, the office said. Investigators obtained records showing Fenn had accessed the site.

— Justin Jouvenal

$1 million bus stop will be reviewed

Arlington County and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will team up to review how the new bus stop on Columbia Pike came to cost $1 million and what lessons they can learn before the next 23 are built.

“We will have a full, independent review of the process and the costs associated with the project,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “The review also will help us pinpoint ways that Arlington could cut costs moving forward. We will make those findings available to the public.”

The $1 million cost of the “super stop” at Walter Reed Drive and Columbia Pike has come under intense criticism since it opened last month. Last week, Donnellan said that further construction would be put on hold while she ordered staff to improve the design and review the costs.

The project, part of a big redevelopment plan for Columbia Pike, took 18 months to build.

— Patricia Sullivan

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