The principal and teachers at a Baltimore middle school have initiated “sensitivity training’’ for students after racial tensions precipitated a brawl that sent nine students to the hospital.
“Many of the kids have never experienced prejudice in this way,’' said Herbert Findeisen, principal of the Robert E. Poole Middle School. “They don’t remember the ‘60’s.’'
Slighlty more than half of the 600 students enrolled at the school are black and are bused into the all-white Baltimore community of Hampden. The neighborhood has a history of racial tension, according to Mr. Findeisen.
Two weeks ago, a fight broke out after a group of people who were not students entered the schoolyard during an annual school fair.
Nine students beaten with baseball bats and metal pipes were taken to an area hospital, where they were treated for cuts and bruises.
The day after the incident, a film on prejudice featuring the comedian Bill Cosby was shown to all students, followed by class discussions. Mr. Findeisen said the film was intended to sensitize the students to racial prejudice.
Because school officials view the incident as a community problem, and not specifically a school problem, Mr. Findeisen said the school will not revise its discipline or security policies.
He said school officials also met with parents and area ministers to discuss ways to ease racial tensions.--R.W.