Busing Ritchie Students: 'Another Side to the Story'

I was disturbed to open the Metro section of my Post and read a blatantly one-sided account of an important local issue The Post has until now ignored: the threat to the oldest high school in Rockville -- Richard Montgomery -- because of underenrollment {"Busing Plan Protested in Montgomery," May 21}.

A photo accompanying the story showed parents standing in a damp drizzle to dramatize their opposition to having their children, who attend Ritchie Park Elementary School, bused to Julius West Middle School and Richard Montgomery High School. They want their children to be able to walk to Robert Frost Intermediate School and Wootton High School.

A more sophisticated reporter might have wondered why -- if the issue was as simple as the people she quoted said it was -- they needed to be standing there so forlornly in the rain. Had she asked herself this question, it no doubt would then have occurred to her that there might be another side to the story.

The fact is the Montgomery County School Board has been agonizing over this issue for years. A blue ribbon task force made up of representatives from seven school clusters spent four months of study and debate before voting 17 to 2 to recommend moving Ritchie Park to the Richard Montgomery cluster. Dr. Wilmer S. Cody, superintendent of schools, has recommended reassigning Ritchie Park school to the RM cluster.

If The Post wants to take an editorial position on this issue, fine. But when I read a news story, whether it is on the front page or in the Metro section, I expect it to be balanced. When a complex local issue receives such short shrift, those of us "in the know" can only wonder if even more complex national and international issues are being handled as cavalierly. It is not a comfortable thought. KAREN B. BAKER Rockville