Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who has proposed a takeover of D.C. public schools, used his authority yesterday to institute an anti-violence program in two schools.
In the next two weeks, as part of the pilot program, advisers from two community groups will roam Anacostia High and Johnson Junior High schools to monitor halls, counsel youths and, if needed, act as peacemakers.
It's a move that some find controversial because the advisers will come from Peaceoholics and the East Capitol Center for Change. Both groups often hire former offenders who have no teaching or counseling credentials to work with troubled youths.
The D.C. Council put the mayor in charge of school security last year.
Fenty, who, as a candidate for mayor, criticized the pace of change, said that the hall monitors will be screened and receive clearance before being allowed into the schools. What they lack in formal education, he said, they make up for in their abilities to reach teenagers.
The one-year pilot effort will cost $800,000 for the two schools, including summer school. Fenty hopes that the rewards -- reduced police calls, suspensions and lockups -- will offset the expenses.
"The things we have tried in the past have not worked," he said. "Community policing is great, but it's not enough. This is going to cost a lot of money, but we think this is the kind of intervention that works."
Since Fenty announced plans to take control of city schools, he has been at odds with top school leaders who are fighting to retain control of the system. At yesterday's meeting, no senior school officials spoke.
Peaceoholics and the East Capitol Center for Change have previously worked in schools, mostly on a volunteer basis. Representatives said that past attempts to formalize contracts with the school system have been fruitless.
But John C. White, school system spokesman, said yesterday that the system had been supportive of the groups.
"We look forward to continuing to . . . create a safe and secure school environment," White said.
Assistant Police Chief Alton Bigelow said that Anacostia and Johnson, both in Ward 8, were chosen for the pilot program because they have a high incidence of violence and because students from rival neighborhoods often have to walk through one another's neighborhoods to get to school.
This school year, there have been 102 reported incidents at Anacostia, including fights, threats, robberies and thefts. Johnson has had 54 incidents.
City police and private security officers who patrol the schools will now be aided by the advisers from the East Capitol Center for Change and Peaceoholics.
"What had been happening prior to this," said Curtis Watkins, executive director of the East Capitol Center, "is they've hired psychologists to analyze these kids, and the kids play along for a while and then go back to what they were doing."
But his organization attempts to find the root causes of problems; sometimes, it picks children up and takes them home, helps them find jobs and puts them in contact with social service agencies.
"We're not teachers, but our children will never deal with the academics if we don't deal with their social problems," said Jauhar Abraham, co-founder of Peaceoholics.
The groups will work through the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, which has instituted its violence-free zone initiative in 21 schools across the country, including in Atlanta, Baltimore and Prince George's County.