Calm apparently has returned to Winston Educational Center, in the wake of actions taken by school officials to stern disruptive behavior by some students. But overcrowding and a shortage of books still are major problems, said a spokesman for the parents.
Parent groups met in recent weeks with school board members, demanding that the school in Southeast Washington be closed due to overcrowding, violence and fights among students. The school remained open, but some parents kept their children home temporarily. Most parents said the problems at Winston were the result of the transfer of 176 student from Kramer Junior High School to Winston this year.
After meeting more than 63 Winston parents last week, D.C. School Superintendent Vincent Reed said, "I think the problem at Winston has been taken care of."
The police and security guards who patroled school halls two weeks ago are no longer necessary, said Winston principal Marie Marshall. "The school is much quieter than it has been," a parent agreed.
Officials credit the renewed calm at Winston, typical of the school's first two years, to the removal of seven students known for disrupting classes and starting fights. The students were sent to different schools throughout the city. Also, seven additional teachers were assigned to work with the junior high students at Winston, giving the faculty more control.
Additional materials and books are being sent to Winston, Reed said. However, Sidney Glee, the Winston Neighborhood Council chairman who has been leading the parents' protest, said that only 40 percent of the books and supplies required have been received.
Reed also told parents they could transfer their children from Winston to other schools, if they wished. At the request of Ward 6 school board member John Warren, Reed's staff pin-pointed space for 400 to 500 students at four junior high schools throughout the city that are not filed to capacity. Winston students can voluntarily transfer to Lincoln, Hamilton, Patterson or Elliott junior high schools, said Ron Webb, an assistant to Reed.
However, Glee said he is not satisfied with the option to transfer students to those schools, which he said are "in unsafe neighborhoods." He said Winston parents are not likely to transfer their children because the schools are "far from our homes."
The offer of transfer for Winston students was not prompted by complaints from parents about overcrowding at the school, Reed said, but because of overcrowded conditions at the four junior high schools in the Region 1 Anacostia area, which includes Winston and Kramer schools.
Reed has said that Winston is not overcrowded. The school's current enrollment, which includes students from preschool to eighth grade, is slightly greater than 800. Winston was designed for 1.180 students, Reed said.
Some school board members and administration officials, however, agree with parents that Winston is overcrowded, at least at the junior high level.
At meetings last month, teachers said overcrowding has forced some of the 400 seventh and eighth graders to sit on tables and the floor of the modern, windowless second floor junior high learning center at Winston. This week some teachers held classes in the school cafeteria.
Webb explained that Winston is considered overcrowded at the junior high level because the school was designed for - and the official capacity was determined with - elementary school-aged children in mind.
Reuben Pierce, regional school superintendent fo the Anacostia area, said he will review the formula used to evaluate student capacity in open space schools such as Winston.
In other efforts to alleviate the problems at Winston, parents, students and teachers met several times last week to get acquainted with each other and the school. Parents also organized groups to come into the school and assist teachers and administrations.