I am a Shaw resident, and I found your Dec. 7 Metro article "The Cast and Their Lot" to be inaccurate, one-sided and unfair in its portrayal of some of my neighbors.
First, the lawsuit over the Garrison school was never a "struggle . . . of neighborhood amenities, a disagreement between residents and the D.C. school system." The school system was breaking the law, to the detriment of the students at the school. Superintendent Arlene Ackerman refused to address the issue until the school system was hauled into court by the parents--and fought tooth and nail for the right to continue breaking the law. If you want to do an article outlining a "broader, citywide dynamic," maybe you should write about the tradition of the D.C. Public Schools ignoring the law until a judge forces it not to.
Most disturbing about your article is its racial slant. There is a widespread misperception that Shaw is a longtime black community being invaded by white newcomers. The reality is more complicated. Shaw has always been diverse, and it has always been transitory. In the census of 1990--almost 10 years ago--55 percent of Shaw residents had been at their current address for less than five years. The number today is probably about the same. In the early part of the century, the neighborhood had a large Jewish and Italian population, and until the 1950s, parts of Shaw were under racial covenants that put them off limits to blacks. It wasn't even called Shaw until after the 1968 riots, and the name didn't start to stick until the 1980s.
Your article stated, "The D.C. school system has rented the open lot next to Garrison Elementary School to Metropolitan for 20 years." It's not an open lot--it's a fenced-in playground with a ball diamond. And it hasn't been 20 years--memories differ, but it has been 11 years at the longest.
In his description of Glen Melcher, your reporter wrote, "He lives across from the school but his only child is not enrolled there." It might have been fair to mention that his daughter is 2 years old. It also might have been fair to mention that he has lived in the neighborhood for more than 11 years, and that he is the advisory neighborhood commissioner for the district that contains almost all of the children who attend Garrison.
If you had attended the court proceedings about the Garrison school, as I did, you would not describe Melcher as someone who was "demanding and refused to compromise." To the contrary, Melcher showed incredible comportment throughout the ordeal. It was the D.C. public school system that refused to compromise--and negotiated in bad faith. Nobody in the school administration would meet with parents or even return phone calls. I noticed that your article didn't quote anyone inside the D.C. public schools. Is that because they wouldn't return your phone calls either?
In your description of the Rev. H. Beecher Hicks Jr., it might have been helpful to the reader to note that he, like most of his parishioners, does not live in the District.
In your description of Rodney Foxworth, it might have helped to mention that of all the Shaw residents featured in the story, he has lived in Shaw the shortest time--3 1/2 years. He is also the only one who is not a homeowner.
Your article did a disservice to my neighborhood and our city. Unfortunately, the damage is done. All I ask is that in the future you be more careful.