An Oct. 27 Metro item misstated the requirements for receiving a Maryland high school diploma starting in 2009. Students who fail one or more of the state's four standardized tests may still graduate as long as their combined score meets the state standard. (Published 10/31/2005)


O'Malley Wins Howard Endorsements

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's gubernatorial campaign rolled out 10 endorsements yesterday in Howard County, seeking to demonstrate early support in a swing jurisdiction before next year's Democratic primary.

Those lining up behind O'Malley included State's Attorney Timothy J. McCrone (D); three Democratic delegates; Vernon Gray, a former Howard County Council chairman and president of the Maryland Association of Counties; and Patricia Rouse, a community activist and wife of the late Jim Rouse, the developer of the planned community of Columbia.

Howard, home to about 4.5 percent of Maryland's registered Democrats, is nestled between O'Malley's home city and the jurisdiction led by his Democratic rival, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan. "We're very close to Montgomery County, but when we looked at who should be the next governor of Maryland, we said Martin O'Malley is the one we want," Del. Frank S. Turner (D-Howard) said.

Duncan spokeswoman Jody Couser played down the significance of the early endorsements, saying Duncan has been campaigning hard in Howard, where his goal "is to meet real people, introduce himself and listen to what they think this state needs."

Others endorsing the mayor included Dels. Shane E. Pendergrass and Neil F. Quinter, both Howard Democrats; County Council members Guy Guzzone (D-Southeast County) and Ken Ulman (D-West Columbia); Columbia Council member Josh Feldmark; and Ellicott City Democratic Club President Tony McGuffin.

Education Board Sets English Exam Score

The Maryland Board of Education voted unanimously yesterday on a passing score for the state's high school English exam, one of four tests that will be required by 2009 to receive a diploma.

The other exams are in biology, algebra and government. Students must pass at least three tests to graduate from high school. Students who fail an exam must still must earn above a certain "minimum score" to graduate. Passing and minimum scores are different for each exam. In English, students will have to get 396 of a possible 650 points, the state board decided yesterday. The minimum score is 386. The lowest possible score on the test is 240.

Immigrants Sue for Medicaid Coverage

Lawyers for eight documented immigrant children from Montgomery and Prince George's counties, including a 7-year-old boy with cancer and a 16-year-old girl suffering from West Nile virus, filed a lawsuit yesterday, claiming that Maryland officials have improperly denied them coverage under Medicaid, the state health insurance program for the poor.

Earlier this year, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) cut $7 million for the coverage of about 4,000 immigrant children and pregnant women who have legal status but have lived in the country less than five years. "It's a discriminatory act that must be remedied," said Regan Bailey, a Legal Aid lawyer.

The suit, filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court, asks that the cuts be declared unconstitutional and seeks an injunction requiring the state to provide medical coverage. Jervis S. Finney, Ehrlich's chief legal counsel, said yesterday that the "policy aspects" of the matter are under review.


Officer's Death Ruled an Accident

A D.C. police officer's death in August has been ruled an accident caused by drinking too much water during a bicycle training ride, authorities said yesterday.

Officer James C. McBride, 25, died Aug. 10, a day after collapsing at the department's police academy in Southwest Washington. The D.C. medical examiner said yesterday that McBride died of brain swelling caused by hyponatremia, an abnormally low salt concentration in the blood that occurs when a person loses a large amount of sodium or consumes a large amount of water.

Police think McBride drank as much as three gallons of water on his training run.

McBride, a highly honored officer, worked in the 1st District and patrolled Sursum Corda, a low-income housing cooperative off North Capitol Street. He was training to ride a mountain bike on patrol.

At the time of his death, police said doctors thought McBride died from drinking too much water. It took more than two months to determine the cause of death because pathologists had to await the results of toxicology tests, officials said.

Center for Homeless Kids to Extend Hours

A District child-care center serving homeless families announced yesterday that it has received a $300,000 private grant for a new evening care program.

Bright Beginnings Child Development Center will now stay open from 3:30 to 11:30 p.m. weekdays to care for 36 homeless children while their parents are at work. The center received a $300,000 grant from the Freddie Mac Foundation for the program.

The center, at the Perry School Community Services Center at 128 M. St. NW, provides child care and services to nearly 100 children from 6 weeks to 5 years old whose parents live in shelters or transitional housing. Their parents have access to a health clinic, a pharmacy, job training, after-school tutoring and other services there.

The evening child care program will begin Tuesday.

Rent Control Plan Gets Hearing

D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), chairman of the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, held a day-long hearing yesterday in which dozens of landlords, building owners and tenants testified about legislation that would alter the city's rent control laws for the first time in two decades.

Most of the testimony from the building owners and tenants focused on one of the bills that would limit rent increases. Although tenants favored the new bill, which would limit rent increases to 10 percent a year and restrict them on newly vacated units in rent-controlled buildings, some landlords protested.

"If I cannot 'balance' the rents in my building by having the new tenants pay more, I will have no choice but to raise rents more for the existing tenants," said K. David Meit of Daro Realty Inc. and spokesman for the Apartment and Office Building Association.

Graham said that he plans to mark up the legislation next month and that 12 council members have signed on to proposals to strengthen the city's rent control. "This train has left the station," Graham said. "I think the council is going to pass all of these bills."

"I had one judge tell me, 'I'd rule that way, but I don't have the guts to.' I told him, 'You should be driving a truck.' "

-- Judge Ian M. O'Flaherty of Fairfax General District Court, who is dismissing DWI cases in his courtroom because he believes Virginia's drunken driving laws are unconstitutional. -- A1

Compiled from reports by Susan Kinzie, Ylan Q. Mui, Mary Otto, Ernesto Londono, John Wagner, Theola S. Labbe, Del Quentin Wilbur and Yolanda Woodlee.