THE REGION

Md., Va. Score Poorly on Costs of College

A national "report card" that assesses how well states do in helping students make it through college gave both Maryland and Virginia middling but mostly steady grades.

The report, by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, measured 10-year trends and found that most states are doing a better job of preparing high school graduates for college but that they have made little progress in the rate of students who enroll in college or receive degrees.

Both states received strong marks for having a highly educated population -- Maryland getting an "A" and Virginia an "A-minus," measured by the percentage of adults with a college degree.

Maryland also received an "A" in "participation," for having a high proportion of its students pursue higher education, whereas Virginia scored a B-minus, slightly lower than on the last study two years ago. On the academic preparation of students, Maryland received an "A-minus" and Virginia a "B-plus."

But both received low marks for "affordability" -- a "D-minus" for Virginia and an "F" for Maryland. However, only two states received a grade of "C" or higher.

The study did not grade the District because data were drawn from federal records that break down only by state, survey directors said.

THE DISTRICT

Court Declines Action on Special Education

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman declined yesterday to cite the District government for civil contempt or appoint a court monitor to oversee the way the school system pays its bills involving special education.

The action had been requested by plaintiffs in what is known as the Petties case, a class-action suit filed in 1995 against the city that alleges failure by officials to properly handle key special education issues, including transportation and payment to private schools and others providing services to thousands of schoolchildren.

Kelly Bagby, an attorney for the plaintiffs, asked Friedman for the two orders, saying that school officials had violated a previous court order to establish a payment system and pay providers on time.

Friedman, however, said officials had substantially complied with the order and he wanted to give the new school superintendent, Clifford B. Janey, a chance to review and address the issues involved.

Williams Calls Gun Proposal an 'Insult'

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) yesterday criticized a proposal by Rep. Mark Edward Souder (R-Ind.) to repeal the District's gun laws, calling it an assault on the nation's capital, a catalyst for crime and an insult to its residents and victims of gun violence.

Williams recited a list of District children killed by guns -- 14 this year -- and asked whether members of Congress remembered their names. "It's really an insult to the memory of people in this city who have died by gun violence," the mayor said. "This is not the time, ladies and gentlemen, to be arming these kids, arming these gangs and arming crazy people with assault weapons."

The Republican-controlled House is "using our District as a pawn. It's an incredible assault on home rule," Williams said. He added, "I can't see how . . . our public safety priorities are really a priority up there if these are the kinds of things they're talking about."

MARYLAND

Official Won't Discuss Prison Death

A Maryland prison official declined yesterday to answer state lawmakers' questions about an inmate who died in April after a violent confrontation with guards at the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland.

Mary Ann Saar, secretary of public safety and correctional services, told a state Senate committee she was unable to comment because the FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the death of Ifeanyi A. Iko. Saar also rebuffed the committee's request for a videotape of the incident.

Iko, 51, was forcibly removed from his cell April 30 by guards who subdued him with pepper spray, handcuffed his ankles and wrists and placed a spit-protection mask over his face. Iko, who formerly lived in Montgomery County, died of asphyxia caused by pepper spray, the use of the facial mask and the manner in which he was restrained, according to an autopsy report. The chief medical examiner's office has classified his death as a homicide.

An internal investigation by Saar's department cleared the guards of wrongdoing, and an Allegany County grand jury found that the guards were not criminally responsible for Iko's death.

State Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, asked Saar to reconsider her refusal to provide the videotape. Frosh said later that he had not decided whether to seek the power to compel testimony in the case.

State Police to Monitor Juvenile Jail

The Maryland Department of Juvenile Services announced yesterday that it would temporarily reassign additional staff members to a troubled juvenile detention center in Baltimore from other state facilities and would issue new safety equipment to staff members.

The Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center -- described this week in a state report as so chaotic and potentially dangerous that public defenders and volunteers are afraid to go inside -- will also have "frequent, regular visits throughout the day" by Maryland State Police, the department indicated.

The 144-bed facility opened nearly a year ago.

VIRGINIA

Stafford School Gets Non-Political Name

A campaign to name a new Stafford County high school after President Reagan failed Tuesday night.

Two School Board members had backed the effort as a tribute to the late Republican president. But the board voted 5 to 2 to avoid politics and follow a committee's recommendation to name the school after a nearby road.

The school, to be called Mountain View High School, is scheduled to open next year.

Tourism Mixed in Shenandoah Valley

Tourism numbers are mixed for the Shenandoah Valley, where visits are down slightly compared with a year ago.

Numbers released this week by the Shenandoah Valley Travel Association show that visitation at most information centers in the valley decreased an average of 3 percent through August. But visits to Shenandoah National Park went up 12 percent, and the Blue Ridge Parkway also experienced a slight increase.

"We all got a strong sense that they wanted to tell our story the way we wanted it told. We're anxious to see how they put it together."

-- William P. Miles, an administrator for HUD and chief of the Pamunkey, among the 24 tribes to be featured in the Smithsonian's new National Museum of the American Indian. -- Page B1

Staff writers Amy Argetsinger, Michelle Boorstein, Lori Montgomery, Eric Rich and Valerie Strauss and the Associated Press contributed to this report.