District News Roundup
The Barnard (Vt.) Central School District has filed suit in U.S. District Court challenging the decision of a state hearing officer that the schools must provide psychotherapy for an emotionally disturbed pupil.
The student, who had been evaluated by school officials, was found to be eligible for special-education services by the hearing officer, according to John Paul Faignant, attorney for the district. The district, however, appealed that decision to the state because the student's educational plan called for psychotherapy.
The state upheld the decision of the hearing officer, but, according to Mr. Faignant, district officials are not convinced that psychotherapy qualifies as special instruction.
"They want to know if they are in the business of education or in the business of providing for the total needs of the child," Mr. Faignant said. "They want to know where it's going to stop."
A federal district judge recently rejected an attempt by the State of Michigan to avoid paying approximately $1.5 million in school-desegregation aid to the Benton Harbor public schools.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Hillman ruled on May 13 that the state's argument against making the payments was based on a misinterpretation of a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Last January, the appeals court upheld an order by Judge Hillman requiring the predominantly white Eau Claire and Coloma school districts to transfer students to predominantly black schools in Benton Harbor.
State lawyers, in papers filed with Judge Hillman after the appeals court's ruling, argued that the Sixth Circuit, in its review of the plan, determined that the lower court's de-segregation remedy represented a "series of suggestions" rather than an enforceable court order. In the absence of such an order, they said, the state did not have to pay a share of the cost of the desegregation plan.
Judge Hillman disagreed, pointing out several instances in which the state was liable for segregation in the Benton Harbor district.
A teacher's aide at a Long Island junior high school last week shot the school's principal and one student, held 18 students hostage at gunpoint, and fatally shot himself after releasing all of the hostages.
The principal, Stephen P. Howland, was grazed by a bullet on his cheek, but he reported to work the following day. The student, Luis Burgos, was in stable condition at Southside Hospital in Bayshore.
The episode began last Monday when Robert O. Wickes took a rifle to an afternoon social-studies class at Brentwood East Junior High School in Brentwood. Mr. Burgos, a student in the class, had had a fight with Mr. Wickes 12 days earlier.
Mr. Wickes was dismissed as a teacher's aide for fighting with the student, who was suspended for one week following the incident. As Mr. Wickes walked toward the classroom, Mr. Howland followed him.
Mr. Wickes shot Mr. Howland, entered the classroom and shot Mr. Burgos, then took the 18 students in the room as hostages.
The gunman released the students, following agreements negotiated with the assistant principal, Frank Carnese, and with the Suffolk County hostage team. When the last student left the classroom at 10:10 P.M., officials said, Mr. Wickes shot himself in the left temple.
One of the world's leading art dealers will donate $100,000 to a scholarship fund and allow students to tour his New York City gallery as his punishment for tampering with court evidence.
The assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, John J. Reick Jr., sought a prison sentence for Frank Lloyd for his role in changing documents that listed the value of works of art by the late Mark Rothko. The well-known abstract painter died in 1970.
The artist's daughter, Kate Rothko, accused Mr. Lloyd and the executors of her father's estate of conspiracy in improperly handling the estate.
"We think the sentence was an extraordinarily lenient one, in view of the fact that [Mr. Lloyd] destroyed and manufactured evidence," said Mr. Reick. He said that Mr. Lloyd's net worth was at least $50 million, and that $100,000 therefore did not pose a hardship for him.
Mr. Lloyd was convicted last December of three counts of tampering with evidence.
Acting Justice Herbert I. Altman of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan issued the ruling May 16.
Gordon M. Ambach, New York's commissioner of education, has ruled that the Knox Memorial School District lacked the authority to threaten one of its teachers with insubordination charges unless he lost weight and had corrective dental surgery to improve his appearance.
The district had given Peter Mermer, an 11th-grade mathematics teacher, until May 1 to show "substantial progress" in improving his appearance or to produce a medical certificate saying that his problems could not be corrected.
The teacher said his appearance did not affect his teaching ability and appealed to the commissioner, who subsequently rejected the district's claim that Mr. Mermer's obesity and poor teeth are "so severe as to render him incompetent to perform his teaching duties."