Weast Adds Regional Deputies

New Montgomery County School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast announced a major reorganization of the administration last night that he said is intended to help the bureaucracy focus on closing the academic achievement gap.

The reorganization, which he told community leaders was based on tractor-maker Caterpillar Inc.'s structure, in effect returns to an earlier era when area directors were scattered throughout the county. Those positions were eliminated in the budget cuts of the early 1990s.

Weast's plan creates six "community superintendents." Instead of having one deputy superintendent, Weast will have three. The reorganization will add two positions to the schools administration.

Woman Killed by Train

A woman was decapitated when she tried to jump aboard a train in an industrial area southwest of downtown Baltimore and slipped under one of its wheels, police said.

The woman was walking with friends about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when she tried to get on the train, which was traveling east to Locust Point on the CSX Corp. rail line.

"She apparently told her friends she thought it would be fun to hop on a train," said police spokeswoman Ragina Cooper.

The woman grabbed for a handrail but lost her balance and was thrown under the train and decapitated, Cooper said. Police believe the 26-year-old woman had been drinking. Her name was withheld until relatives could be notified.

Citizens Sue to Block Gun Control Vote

Two Takoma Park residents filed a lawsuit yesterday to keep three gun control measures off the Nov. 2 municipal ballot, saying the questions conflict with state law.

Last month, a petition drive won the right to place a proposed charter amendment on the city ballot that would ban the sale, ownership or possession of handguns within city limits. But Maryland law prohibits counties and cities from regulating firearms, and city lawyers predicted a legal challenge.

As a compromise, the City Council placed two advisory questions on the ballot, asking voters whether state law should be changed to allow cities to ban handguns and whether Takoma Park should do so if the law were changed. The suit filed yesterday in Montgomery County Circuit Court contends that state law also prohibits straw polls.

City residents Michael Cohen and Karen O'Neill are seeking a temporary restraining order to keep the questions off the ballot. A hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. today.


Rediscovered Fence Piers Will Be Moved

The National Park Service, with the concurrence of the District's historic preservation officer, has decided to remove the 146-year-old sandstone footings that once anchored an ornate Victorian iron fence at Lafayette Square. The footings were discovered during an excavation for a new security fence earlier this month, according to a Park Service official.

Deemed historically significant, the piers for the old fence, which was taken down in 1889, could not simply be demolished. The Park Service considered three options: leave them in place and build the new fence over them, relocate the new fence, or remove the footings for display at another location.

Ann Smith, an official of the regional office of the Park Service, said the plan is to remove the piers in groups and truck them to a Park Service site in C&O Canal National Historical Park near the Seneca quarry, where they originated.

Board Backs School on Ousting Principal

The Washington Math Science Technology Public Charter School was within its rights to replace founder Mary Johnson as principal this summer, a report released yesterday said.

But the school must expand its board of directors and limit the role played by the pro-charter school AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation, which helped create the school, then clashed with Johnson and her husband over how to run it.

The report by the D.C. Public Charter School Board, which oversees the charter high school, lauded Johnson's talents, but said she and her husband, both former D.C. school administrators, share responsibility with AppleTree for the governance difficulties that at times paralyzed the fledgling school last spring. The board said AppleTree did not misappropriate funds meant for the school, as alleged by some parents and Johnson's husband, Eugene Williams Sr.

Washington Math Science is now thriving under the direction of a new principal, parents and officials said. Enrollment has jumped from 200 to 327, though nearly one-fourth of last year's students left.


GOP Candidates Keep Lead in Money

Virginia Republicans continue to win the all-out race for campaign dollars, easily out-raising Democrats in virtually all of Northern Virginia's contested races for county offices and for the state assembly.

GOP state Sen. Jane H. Woods (Fairfax) reported yesterday that she has raised about $490,000 in her bid to stay in office, more than $100,000 more than her Democratic opponent, Leslie Byrne. Woods also has about three times as much cash left, according to the documents filed with the State Board of Elections.

Much of the Republican money came from political action committees in Richmond, which made donations of as much as $30,000 each between Oct. 1 and Oct. 20. Large donations also came from the national Republican Party.

The money on both sides will fuel last-minute campaign mailings and television advertisements.


For Runner Who Lost Lung, a Victory

Jim Clapp, who began training as a long-distance runner after losing his left lung to cancer surgery two years ago, completed the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday in just under 7 1/2 hours.

Clapp, 42, a former construction contractor from Arlington, had never expected to finish near the front of the pack but aimed to complete the race and give hope to others with lung cancer. He began training six months ago for the marathon, the first long-distance race he has ever run.

"We did it," he said yesterday. "And the finish line was still up."


"We've had cases of people taking vans, throwing the seats out and using the vehicles to steal motorcycles. These aren't joy-riding thieves."

-- Sgt. Mitch Cunningham, commander of the Montgomery County centralized auto theft team. Minivans are near the top of the list of most-stolen cars in this area.