Education A National Roundup

Baltimore Officials Take Steps to Combat Series of School Fires

By John Gehring — October 19, 2004 1 min read

A rash of fires in Baltimore public schools has angered parents and galvanized school and city officials to respond with more security at several sites.

Nineteen fires have been set at the 1,250-student Walbrook High Uniform Services Academy since schools opened on Sept. 7. No one has been injured, but repeated evacuations have disrupted classes and led to the arrest of four Walbrook students.

School officials have increased the number of hall monitors there, and a city firetruck has been assigned to the school full time.

A proposal to calm the situation by moving 300 freshmen at Walbrook to another building was not received well by parents at an Oct. 11 meeting attended by Bonnie S. Copeland, the chief executive officer of the district, and other city leaders, according to Edie House-Foster, a spokeswoman for the 90,000-student system. For now, that plan has been put on hold.

A 14-year-old student was arrested on charges of setting a fire at Thurgood Marshall High School on Oct. 7. School officials have assigned extra staff members to help monitor that school and Forest Park High School, where restroom fires have also been set this fall.