Grace Episcopal Day School officials said yesterday that they have been caught in an "unfortunate cross fire" between Montgomery County Executive Charles Gilchrist and public school officials, who charge that the county's decision to lease a building to Grace Episcopal could jeopardize a major integration effort in the Rosemary Hills area.
Principal Jane Wood said yesterday that she felt it was unfair of public school officials and County Council members to suggest that a number of students--in particular, white students--in Silver Spring and Chevy Chase whose parents did not want them to participate in the busing program would enroll at the private school. Grace Episcopal plans to move its third- through sixth-grade classes this fall into the abandoned Larchmont Elementary building in Kensington.
The 23-year-old private school always has been well integrated, Wolf said. Thus far, she said, only three new students from the Rosemary Hills and Chevy Chase areas have enrolled for next year. Wolf said that more than a third of the 156 students are members of racial minority groups.
School officials and five County Council members unsuccessfully urged Gilchrist this week to break his lease with the private school because of its possible effect on the busing plan.
School officials and County Council members argue that it is not the private school's racial enrollment that concerns them, but the possibility that any private school in the area might draw students from the public schools. Low enrollment has been a problem in the area since a busing plan was first tried six years ago. Larchmont was closed three years ago.