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In the past, kids who made it through D.C. high schools got a royal reward for their toil: a noble walk down the diploma aisle under the hallowed dome of Constitution Hall. D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) footed the bill for any of the city’s 13 high schools interested in using the historic site. The revelry rang in at over $2,000 per graduation, howevera price DCPS could not rationalize under its current budget crunch. So this year, DCPS determined it could afford to sponsor just one day of graduations at Constitution Hall. To narrow the field, only schools with 250 or more graduating seniors can participate. The other 10 high schools must find their own venuesand the money to pay for them. DCPS spokesperson Loretta Hardge, like any good flack, touts the advantages of the school system’s shoestring graduation plan. Parents and friends of DCPS graduates, notes Hardge, will have a much easier time parking at ceremonies relocated to school gyms, auditoriums, and fields, than at Constitution Hall, which is located at 18th and D Streets NW. Some lucky guests, she adds, may even be able to walk to nearby schools. “It makes more sense in terms of proximity,” Hardge explains.
Downtowners power-walking along K Street lost precious seconds last Friday when they paused to puzzle over signs denouncing NationsBank as a “southern-based bigot.” Few answers were available from the handful of protesters demonstrating in front of a NationsBank branch at 18th and K Streets NW. “It’s not the Klan in sheets that harms us…it is the KKK in NationsBank,” read one protester’s cryptic banner. At the center of it all was the Rev. Douglas Moore, a former D.C. councilmember and longtime District activist. Asked who had organized the demonstration, Moore responded, “I don’t know. Who cares?” But several of the other protesters, who accused the bank of racial discrimination in lending practices, said they turned out at Moore’s behest. “I haven’t experienced [discrimination] directly,” said one banner-bearer, “but I’ve heard quite a bit about it.” As has NationsBank, which was named in a 1995 suit charging the bank with mortgage-lending discrimination. That case is still pending, according to NationsBank spokesperson Julie Horn. But the recent troubles may date to January, when the bank turned down Moore’s request for a small-business loan. The reverend has been orchestrating sporadic protests ever since. “He is, quite frankly, a disgruntled customer,” Horn said.
In the ever-shifting power structure that is D.C. politics, few officials have as anomalous a position as Don Reeveswho serves simultaneously as president of the now-irrelevant D.C. Board of Education and as a member of the omnipotent emergency trustee board appointed last year to rescue city schools. Juggling the offices is so confusing that Reeves has apparently forgotten his own title. His voice-mail message at the board of ed declares him to be both president (true) and at-large representative (not true). Reeves was in fact elected last fall as a Ward 3 member of the board. One of the actual at-large members, Jay Silberman, says he “couldn’t hazard a guess” as to why Reeves’ message would hijack his title. “I would assume he would know what office he was elected to,” Silberman mused. Reeves says he was unaware of the misleading voice-mail, but added that he often has trouble getting his messages from the board of ed office.