September 8, 2010 at 1:00 am

2 DPS teens shot after first day of school

Violence, late buses tarnish an otherwise smooth start to year

Police tape hangs near the scene of a shooting Tuesday, the first day of school, on Wyoming near Mumford High School in Detroit. (Elizabeth Conley / The Detroit News)

Detroit -- The first day at Detroit Public Schools started and ended badly as two teens were shot near Mumford High shortly after dismissal and dozens of buses were late picking up students earlier in the day.

The two Mumford teens were wounded after leaving the high school Tuesday, and at least one Mumford student is being questioned. A bullet grazed the forehead of a 14-year-old girl, and a 16-year-old boy was shot in the buttocks about a block away from the school, district officials say.

"I don't want to send my child back to school (today)," said Sharon Kelso, whose granddaughter attends Mumford. She wants extra security around the school to protect the children from after-school violence that could have been brewing during the day.

"They just don't have the security they need up that street."

The students were conscious after being shot and taken to a Detroit hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, said DPS Police Chief Roderick Grimes.

Later Tuesday, Detroit Police officers fatally shot an armed male while investigating the Mumford shootings. The incident happened in the corridor of an apartment building after police ordered him to put down his gun. He refused and pointed it at officers, said Detroit Police Sgt. Eren Stephens.

Police didn't identify him or say whether he was a Mumford student or if he was a suspect in the earlier shootings.

During the school day, there was no known altercation at Mumford, and police are trying to piece together what happened, district officials said.

Kecia Smith, a teacher at Mumford, was surprised by the shooting. "We were ready for the kids, but this violence is happening everywhere," Smith said. "I'm really scared for these kids. That's how they live."

Mumford and the rest of the district received $41.7 million in safety upgrades and DPS outsourced school security to a private firm, Securitas.

Earlier Tuesday, transportation problems caused students to wait for up to 35 minutes on more than 100 bus routes citywide.

Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb had hoped weeks of planning and transportation trial runs would make for a smoother opening. But he waited with students for more than half an hour early Tuesday morning for a bus heading to Spain Elementary.

Bobb had terse words for First Student, the Cincinnati-based company hired to transport most of the district's students.

"Those personnel who are responsible for not measuring up to the standards that I have set, they will be held to pay," Bobb said Tuesday morning.

Terminations could happen, a district spokesman said. It appeared buses left the transportation center late, creating an increasing tardiness problem along the routes, Bobb said.

First Student apologized for the delays. "We are working closely with the district to review the transportation process and to address any issues," spokeswoman Bonnie Bastian said. "We are confident the transportation timing will improve rapidly."

In February, Bobb announced outsourcing of the transportation department to save money for the district, saddled with a $363 million deficit. First Student will receive $16 million in the first year, with veteran contractors ABC Student Transportation receiving $5 million and Safeway $4 million.

On Tuesday, 127 buses out of 263 routes for First Student were late. Bobb was pleased with ABC and Safeway, which had four late buses out of a combined 200.

DPS officials said they were pleased enrolled students had schedules, walk-ins were quickly placed and teaching and learning occurred on the first day of school.

"Overall, this has been one of the most successful opening days in recent history," district spokeswoman Kisha Verdusco said."> (313) 222-2310

Kindergarten teacher Lawanas Doggett reads a book about the first day of ... (Brandy Baker / The Detroit News)