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Superintendent defends Western Heights

November 14, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Fifth-graders at Western Heights Middle School are getting a good education despite the complaints of parents lobbying to bring them back to Salem Avenue Elementary School, Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr. said.

Salem Avenue Elementary parents believe the school's $4.6 million renovation in 2002 should make room for fifth grade.

They say it's not fair to move the students out of the elementary school a year early.

Salem Avenue and Winter Street elementary schools are the only two in the county that don't have fifth grade. Since 1987, those fifth--graders have gone to Western Heights Middle School.

While he doesn't necessarily oppose moving the fifth-graders back to the elementary school, Bartlett said there is no need.

"Overall, we are proud of what Western Heights has to offer. It is our opinion that time tables for such alterations need not be accelerated in response to misinformation, innuendo and ill-conceived motives," Bartlett said on Tuesday, reading from a statement signed by him and eight middle school representatives.

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The middle school does not have problems with violence and drugs, as some elementary parents have suggested, Bartlett said.

Nor was the move intended to be a temporary fix, he said.

Salem Avenue elementary parents are declining to comment about Bartlett's statements, said parent Teresa Dump.

Last month, Dump presented the school board with a 420-signature petition asking that the fifth-graders be returned to Salem Avenue.

Parents alleged discrimination against their West End Hagerstown neighborhoods.

They said students are segregated for their own protection at the middle school and yet kept from activities at their home elementary schools.

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