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Fatal Shooting Raises Fears About Safety in D.C. Schools

A 14-year-old Washington, D.C.,, boy has been charged as a juvenile with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old at the city's Cardozo High School.

The victim, Antar A. Hall, a sophomore at Cardozo, was shot three times in the back on Jan. 5, following what witnesses described as an argument between the youngster and his alleged attacker. Police believe the shooting stemmed from an earlier incident in which a girl, possibly the 14-year-old's girlfriend, was physically assaulted.

The shooting quickly raised new concerns about safety at the city's schools. Visiting the school the day after the shooting, Franklin L. Smith, the superintendent of the District of Columbia schools, sought to reassure parents that all possible safety precautions had been taken.

He noted that in recent years metal detectors had been installed and that security had been upgraded at junior and senior high schools.

"We can put all the security officers and metal detectors here we want," Smith said, "but we can't stop someone from pulling open a door and shooting inside."

Also last week, the principal of Cardozo, Bernard C. Lucas, was transferred to other duties, though school officials said the change was not related to the shootings.

Easing the Busload: The Cleveland school district last week asked the judge overseeing its desegregation case to release it from strict guidelines governing the assignment of students to schools.

The district argues that it has achieved "unitary" status on student assignments and should not be forced to transfer students during the school year to achieve racial balance.

U.S. District Judge Robert Krupansky set a Feb. 21 hearing. If he rules in the district's favor, it would no longer have to bus the 15,000 students who are now transferred for desegregation purposes.

Meanwhile, the judge ruled that the district does not have to transfer 400 students by Jan. 23 to balance schools.

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