Drive to Aid Caribbean Storm Victims

Two Caribbean-born nurses at Greater Southeast Community Hospital will kick off a drive tomorrow to collect relief supplies for victims of recent hurricanes in Grenada and Haiti.

The nurses, Diana Ross of Grenada and Boadicia Wright of Jamaica, are collecting clothes, bottled water, canned food and school supplies for delivery to remote regions hit hardest by the hurricanes. From 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow through Sunday, the public is asked to drop these items in a large bin near the guard's desk at the front entrance to the hospital, 1310 Southern Ave. SE.

Those who prefer to make monetary contributions can send checks payable to the Red Cross. Donors should designate the funds for hurricane relief and specify the region they want to help.


Hundreds Still Lack Shots for School

D.C. school officials announced yesterday that 631 students have not been immunized or provided proof of immunization and still cannot attend school, nearly four weeks after classes began Sept. 1.

Students without current immunization records have not been permitted to attend regular classes. Their parents and guardians were urged yesterday to contact health care professionals to get the needed shots. Of the affected students, 376 are in high school; 134 are at middle or junior high schools or "transformation schools" designated for additional resources because of low academic performance; 115 are at elementary schools; and six are at special education sites.

For information on locations of health care clinics, parents may call 800-666-2229.

Report Faults Child Mental Health Care

District children in foster care who also need mental health services may experience delays because of problems in the referral and treatment process, according to a report released yesterday by the federal Government Accountability Office.

Two city agencies, Child and Family Services and the Department of Mental Health, used federal funds this year to implement a system designed to simplify how foster care children receive mental health screenings and treatment. The GAO found that the child welfare agency did not analyze whether children were receiving treatment or whether they were evaluated in a timely manner. In its response to the report, the agency said it has hired temporary staff to track the status of the referrals.

The GAO also found that the Mental Health Department did not have enough staff to serve the children. Martha B. Knisely, the department's director, said yesterday that the federal money has been spent on hiring more staff, which has reduced the time it takes to refer foster children for psychiatric and psychological exams.

Congress awarded $14 million in fiscal 2004 to the two agencies and to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments to improve foster care. The GAO, Congress's auditing arm, interviewed caseworkers and foster and adoptive parents and conducted other research since last October.

Ramsey, Aide Could Be Liable in Suit

D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and Assistant Chief Peter J. Newsham could be held personally liable for the mass arrest of 400 antiwar and anti-globalization protesters at a downtown park in September 2002, a federal judge has ruled.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), however, cannot be held personally responsible because he did not participate in the arrests surrounding the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington, according to the ruling.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, in an opinion released on a court Web site yesterday, concluded that Newsham ordered the mass arrests after cordoning off Pershing Park and failed to give an order to demonstrators to disperse before arresting them.

The judge said Ramsey was at the park at the time and was briefed by Newsham about his plan to order mass arrests. Sullivan's ruling came in two lawsuits filed by protesters against the city and police department. Ramsey, Newsham and Williams had contended that they had no personal liability.


Bicyclist Struck by SUV Dies

A 71-year-old Potomac man riding a bicycle died yesterday afternoon after he was struck by a sport-utility vehicle in the Bethesda area, Montgomery County police said.

Wolfgang Jakobsberg of Potomac was riding on the southbound shoulder of Seven Locks Road near Bradley Boulevard about 1:20 p.m. when he drifted into the traffic lane and was hit by a 1999 Lexus SUV, police said.

Jakobsberg, of the 11600 block of Milbern Drive, was taken to Suburban Hospital, where he was pronounced dead later in the afternoon, police said.

The 29-year-old driver of the SUV remained on the scene, police said. The collision is under investigation.

Steele to Lead Panel Studying Education

A new commission headed by Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R) has been formed to develop "a modern agenda for how we educate our children."

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) signed an executive order yesterday launching the 21-member Governor's Commission on Quality Education in Maryland, which is scheduled to deliver its findings in September 2005.

Ehrlich said that unlike previous efforts that have focused on educational spending, the new commission will examine the "bang for the buck." He said areas of exploration will include improving teacher accountability; building stronger links between schools and communities; borrowing "best practices" from around the globe; and enhancing early-childhood programs.

In accepting the assignment, Steele pledged "to account to the people of Maryland for the dollars they spend."


Grant to Help Firefighters Stay in Touch

Fairfax County supervisors approved a $2 million federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security yesterday for hundreds of new radios for firefighters.

The county's fire and rescue department is considered a first responder in a terrorist strike. Communication among emergency crews was a critical issue in the attacks of Sept 11, 2001.

Fire officials said the 500 new radios will be on call to augment the department's current cache in case of a catastrophic attack.

"It's hard on the students, and they don't expect to live long. They don't get to be children."

-- Sylvia Dark, principal of Johnson Junior High School in Southeast, speaking out after one of her students, Michael Swann, was fatally shot. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Karlyn Barker, Sewell Chan, Allan Lengel, Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Jackman, Theola S. Labbe, Lisa Rein and John Wagner and the Associated Press.