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In the Media: What We Know About Korryn Gaines; An Update from City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises

Korryn Gaines was shot by Baltimore County police. Her 5 year old son was hospitalized for a gunshot wound.

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From The Root: Everything We Know About Korryn Gaines

"Korryn Gaines is the name of the 23-year-old woman who was shot and killed by Baltimore County police officers Monday.

"Authorities say that after an hourslong standoff with police, the young mother pointed a long gun at an officer and said that if they did not leave the apartment, 'she was going to kill them.'

"An officer fired once at Gaines, who reportedly returned fire several times. That was when officers fired the fatal shots.

"There is still quite a lot to decipher in the case, but here’s what we know so far about Gaines.

"Korryn Gaines Was the Mother of Two Young Children

"Gaines had a 5-year-old son who was reportedly injured in the shooting. It is not clear who fired the shot that struck the child. Gaines also had a younger daughter.

"Gaines Apparently Legally Owned a Weapon

"A week before being killed by officers, Gaines posted a video to Instagram showing herself loading a gun that appears to have been bought legally.

“'They threw me a charge too late, got my “Big Girl” September of last year. Legit w/papers,' Gaines wrote under the video.

"Gaines Has Had Troubling Interactions With Police Before 

"Gaines had previous controversial encounters with police, during which she seemingly made a point to record as much as possible and post it to social media.

"Gaines also ensured that her eldest child knew to record officers whenever anything seemed to be going wrong, telling him not to be afraid.

"Based on the Instagram accounts, Gaines seems to have had harrowing experiences and prepared for the worst. In one Instagram post, Gaines detailed spending two days in 'isolation' with no water and 'being starved.'"

Full Article

From City Paper: Sonja Santelises says she is up to the task of running the city’s troubled schools system

"When I sit down with newly-appointed Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises in July, she is barely a week into the new job. There is little to personalize her sunny office at the top of North Avenue, save a few small pictures of smiling children and a few stacks of papers. However, she says, she already has a lengthy to-do list.

"It's no secret that running this city's school system is a Herculean task. There have been five CEO's in the last 10 years. The last CEO, Gregory Thornton, left abruptly after coming to Baltimore from Milwaukee in 2014. The Baltimore Sun reported that a performance evaluation it obtained in March showed school board members were frustrated with Thornton's management style, noting that '[t]he CEO often neglects or seems to struggle with articulating an implementation strategy.' As more and more people became fed up with Thornton's apparent inability to tackle systemic problems with city schools—including State Sen. Bill Ferguson, who publicly called for him to resign or be fired—the school board arranged his departure and hired a replacement under a cloak of secrecy. The Board announced Sonja Santelises as the new CEO in May and she arrived in Baltimore to begin work in July.

"She dove right in her first week by getting the lay of the land. 'It's been a lot of meetings with staff,' she says. 'I'm getting a sense of what their work is, what their take on the work is, their take on system strengths, and needs to be attended to.'

"She has also been tackling the nuts-and-bolts parts of her job—like making the calendar for this coming school year, she says, and 'looking at what the kinds of activities are and making sure that it's balanced.'

"And then, there are the sweeping systemic problems she will need to take on in the days ahead: lagging test scores, low graduation rates, and money problems. There's also the issue of staffing. Last year, school administrators were scrambling to fill 90 positions, just days before the start of school, WBAL-TV reported.

"Can Santelises say definitely that there will be enough teachers in Baltimore City schools for this coming school year? Well, no—but she says she's working on it.

"'That's the goal,' she says, acknowledging that it's going to be tough since she wasn't here when recruiting took place last winter, but stating that getting 100 percent of the schools fully staffed is an immediate priority.

"'The system has always faced staffing challenges, so the number of vacancies really follows a very similar pattern," she says. She's focused not just on finding enough people, but finding the right people—highly qualified individuals who will be the right match for the school and the position, she says. She'll get help with this from activist-turned-mayoral-candidate DeRay Mckesson, who was hired back in June as interim chief human capital officer.

"Another inherited issue is the city's 21st Century Schools building initiative, which calls for many city schools to be updated and rebuilt, and for school communities to be broken apart and put back together. Critics of the plan say the school system has done very little to help make the transition a smooth one.

"'There is a lot to manage in trying to bring the large number of schools online in the short amount of time that we've set,' she says. 'It's a monumental task—it just is. Most communities do a school every couple of years, and we're trying to bring X number on board in X number of years, which is far shorter than that. But I do agree that we need to devote as much attention to what the instructional program in those new schools is going to look like, like what's going to be different, is it just a new building, or is it a new school?"

"She says she agrees with the criticism and thinks that the school system could have done a better job of keeping communities informed.

"'It is time to give far more [and] far greater attention to the bringing of those school communities together,' she says."

Full Article

From the Baltimore Sun: At disaster center, Ellicott City flood victims seek aid and answers

"Donna Sanger pulled into the parking lot of the Howard County 50+ Center's temporary disaster assistance center, in Ellicott City, Tuesday afternoon, looking for help and information. On Saturday, the flash flood that rampaged through downtown Ellicott City had destroyed her short-lived Main Street business, Park Ridge Trading Company, which sold foods, glassware and jewelry.

"Outside the entrance, Howard County government officials had set up folding tables under a blue canopy and laid out intake forms for property and business owners, like Sanger, who had incurred losses in the flood, and were seeking some relief.

"County Executive Allan Kittleman announced the center's opening late Monday afternoon as a central location where owners and residents affected by the historic flood could find information on necessities. While some individuals sought out monetary relief for basic items such as food, clothing and shelter, others pursued information on their vehicle and homeowner's insurance policies and how they might best move forward while they still had limited access to their flooded businesses.

"In the wake of the flood, Sanger was left with dozens of questions, not just about her business, but the future of Ellicott City's Main Street.

"'I [came here because I] wanted to see what they're doing, what they're offering and if they have any sense of how long we're going to be out of the building,' Sanger said, walking into the senior center's great room. 'If they could say, "It will be at least a week," then I know that I need to spend the week doing other things and, at least, volunteering down at the recovery center.'

"Nearly 20 tables and four times as many chairs filled the main room and additional conference rooms in the center, each of which was dedicated to a specific state or county agency's information booth.

"On Saturday night, Main Street saw 6.5 inches of rainfall in about two hours. Within one hour, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., more than 4.5 inches drenched the town.

"'It escalated in seconds,' said 21-year-old Darren Bush, a resident who, before the flood, lived above Johnny's Bistro on Main Street with roommates Sully Lannon and Jayden Clarida, both 22. 'We were literally just sitting there and it was just raining. Then, we looked out the window not even two or three minutes later, it was like a legit river. Our first reaction is, "Who's downstairs? Who needs help?" We didn't even think about ourselves.'

Full Article