VIRGINIA

Arlington Denied Rehearing in School Suit

A two-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a request by the Arlington School Board to rehear a lawsuit against an admissions system at the Arlington Traditional School that favors African American and Hispanic applicants.

The panel said in September that the system was unconstitutional because it discriminated against non-Hispanic whites and Asians hoping to enroll in the popular alternative school's kindergarten.

The school board has 90 days after the panel's Tuesday decision to decide whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Montgomery County Board of Education has decided to appeal a similar 4th Circuit decision against its race-based elementary school transfer policy.

MARYLAND

Townsend Backed by Former Political Foe

Maryland racetrack owner Joseph A. De Francis is raising money for Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's possible run for governor in 2002 after working to unseat her last year.

De Francis, majority owner of the Laurel and Pimlico racecourses, is listed as one of 11 co-chairmen for Townsend's $1,000-a-head fund-raiser Nov. 17 in Baltimore.

Last year, De Francis backed Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey over the Democratic team of Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Townsend because of the governor's opposition to slot machines at Maryland tracks.

Despite De Francis's support, Townsend has not given any sign that she will change position on the slots issue. She said she has not discussed the slots issue with representatives of the racing industry.

Infant Dies of Bites From Family Dog

A 3-month-old Edgemere infant died over the weekend after he was bitten by at least one of his family's three dogs, Baltimore County police said.

The state medical examiner's office ruled that the baby's death was an accident, said Cpl. Vickie Warehime. The child suffered dog bites to the upper half of his body, she said.

According to police, the baby's parents placed him in a baby swing at 11:35 p.m. Friday. The child fell asleep and his parents went to sleep in another room, expecting the baby to wake at midnight for his regular feeding, Warehime said.

At 2:25 a.m. Saturday, the parents found the child lying unresponsive next to his swing seat and called police.

The dogs--a chow and two dachshunds--were placed in the county's animal shelter. Officials there will decide their fate, said Elise Armacost, a spokesman for Baltimore County.

Irate Parents Attend High School Meeting

Almost 400 angry parents packed the cafeteria at Montgomery County's Kennedy High School last night to air grievances or voice support for Principal Shelia Dobbins, whom some accuse of letting the school slip academically.

The issue, which has fractured the diverse school community along racial lines, began when a mostly white group of parents pushed to expand a small program, the Leadership Training Institute. They saw the program as a way to stem what they called "bright flight"--the departure of bright students from the school.

Those parents say Dobbins, who is black, obstructed the program and they began a letter-writing campaign to Deputy School Superintendent Steven G. Seleznow calling for her ouster. Seleznow, who attended last night's meeting, made it clear that the session was intended to air concerns over issues such as falling test scores and the school's reputation and was not a trial of Dobbins.

Schaefer Released After Knee Surgery

State Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D) was released yesterday from a Baltimore hospital, where he underwent knee surgery Oct. 14.

The 77-year-old former governor plans to take a one-week vacation in Ocean City, Md., and hopes to return to work Nov. 15, said his spokesman, Mike Golden.

Schaefer had surgery on his right knee to combat the effects of osteoarthritis, a condition that was destroying the joint. Surgeons at Kernan Hospital replaced the bone of his knee with metal and plastic components during the 1 1/2-hour operation.

THE DISTRICT

Delay Sought in School Board Transfer

D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous (D-Ward 7) has asked the D.C. financial control board to delay until January 2001 the transfer of power back to the elected Board of Education, now scheduled to happen by June.

The request, made in a letter, was part of legislation introduced by Chavous, with the support of a majority of the 13-member council, that would change the structure, roles and responsibilities of the school board.

The panel lost its power to oversee the school system in November 1996. There has been some question about whether the board would be ready to resume its governance role after a series of difficulties, including a failed attempt to oust its president.

Chavous has said reforming the board is vital before power is restored.

Sixth-Grader Cashes In on Straight A's

Unique Bexley, who is tutored at a program for disadvantaged children in the Shaw neighborhood of Northwest, is leaving for Walt Disney World tomorrow--a reward for getting straight A's on her report card in the spring.

Businessman Alan Meltzer offered the trip to children in the after-school tutoring program at For Love of Children who got all A's all year. More than 300 children attend the program at the nonprofit center and its satellites.

Unique, 11, was the only child to make the grade. Now in sixth grade, she got some lower grades earlier in the year but ended the school year with a perfect report card, and Meltzer found that satisfactory.

This is the second year Meltzer, president of Meltzer & Associates, has offered the prize but the first year a child has made the grades. Both years he has taken children from the program to Kings Dominion amusement park for getting high grades or showing big improvements.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"If I move this county forward to have it end up looking like Fairfax County, the citizens ought to take me after four years and string me up and shoot me. It would be a shame at the end of the day if we paved over Loudoun County."

--Scott K. York (R), a slow-growth advocate who was elected chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

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