Carjacking at a top D.C. charter school
A teacher at the headquarters of one of the District's leading charter school groups, Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), had her car stolen at gun-point Tuesday evening, leading the KIPP DC executive director to call for D.C. Police protection for her campuses.
Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso announced last week that D.C. public charter schools, which are non-profit and available to all students, will receive the same police protection as regular D.C. public schools. Officers will be assigned to the schools with the greatest need, he said, but details needed to be worked out and charters would not start receiving the added protection until January.
I have been writing about the KIPP schools since they began in the District in 2001 and published a book this year, "Work Hard. Be Nice," about the origins of the national KIPP network of 82 schools. Both nationally and in the District, they have produced the greatest gains in achievement for impoverished children, but KIPP DC's new campus at 4801 Benning Rd SE, the site of three KIPP schools, has been a target for crime.
KIPP DC founder and executive director Susan Schaeffler said one non-KIPP high school student was shot and killed on the Benning Road campus last year. Ten KIPP staff cars have been vandalized and three cars have been stolen, two owned by KIPP staffers and one by a KIPP parent.
"We need help securing our schools just like the traditional schools," Schaeffler said. "We need the surrounding areas, like parking lots and bus stops, to be monitored during arrival and dismissal." She said police responded quickly to the Tuesday carjacking, kept the victim informed and recovered her car, but a police presence is necessary to prevent further incidents. "The police are great and we want more of them," she said.
The carjacking occurred about 5:30 p.m. at a parking lot on the other side of Benning Road that KIPP rents from the D.C. public schools. It is next to the old Fletcher Johnson school, now the temporary site of Woodson High School while its building in Northeast is reconstructed. Schaeffler said D.C. police patrol the Fletcher Johnson campus, but the rented parking lot has been outside their perimeter.
The teacher said a man ran toward her pointing a gun when she got to her car and forced her to remove a steering wheel locking device, then took the vehicle. Schaeffler said the teacher has been told that detectives had questioned a suspect and she could get her car back next week.
D.C. officials decided to extend police protection to charter schools after another charter, Friendship Collegiate Academy in Northeast, had eight students assaulted or robbed since September, with several large fights associated breaking out in front of the school. Charter officials welcomed the change but D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) questioned why the change had not been made immediately and wondered if enough officers would be made available.
| December 4, 2009; 12:12 PM ET
Categories: Jay on the Web | Tags: D.C. charter schools, Friendship Collegiate Academy, Knowledge Is Power Program, Phil Mendelson, Susan Schaeffler, Victor Reinoso, school police protection
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