The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

D.C. staggers bell times at rival high schools after an uptick in conflicts

The entrance of Dunbar High School in D.C. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
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Dunbar and McKinley Tech high schools are located about a 20-minute walk apart in two different D.C. neighborhoods. Dunbar in Northwest’s Truxton Circle neighborhood, and McKinley Tech in Northeast’s Eckington neighborhood.

But neither school has a Metro station in its immediate vicinity, and students from both schools often commute on the same bus lines and walk to the same Metro station — the No-Ma Gallaudet station on the Red Line.

On April 11, dozens of students from the high schools gathered at the No-Ma Metro station in Northeast for a school-on-school fight. Readers of the local blog PoPville sent in pictures of the apparent melee, saying it was “madness.”  The Metropolitan Police Department said it responded to the NoMa Metro station at 3:46 p.m., but did not file a police report. D.C. Public Schools also confirmed the incident.

The school system said as result of that fight, and an increasing number of conflicts between students at the two high schools, it will now stagger the arrival and dismissal times of the schools so students aren’t coming and going at the same times.

Both schools currently run from  8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. on a regular academic day. The new times, which go into effect Monday, will be as follows:

McKinley: 8:35 a.m. to  3:05 p.m.
Dunbar:   8:55 a.m. to  3:25 p.m.

“We just want to make sure that both communities are able to have a very productive time in and out of school, whether they are commuting or in school,” said Michelle Lerner, a D.C. Public Schools spokeswoman.

The schools have sent letters to parents informing them of the changes.

Lerner said this is the first time in recent memory the school system has taken such action, and she said it is still unclear if this change will continue into the next academic year.