District News Roundup
Alabama District To Challenge Law On Dues Deduction
The Muscle Shoals, Ala., board of education has announced that it will file suit against the Alabama Education Association in an effort to clarify a dues-checkoff system that involves funds for the association's political action committee.
The law, enacted during the 1983 legislative session, allows teachers' groups to deduct dues automatically from members' paychecks. The aea, however, approved a "reverse checkoff" system that automatically includes a contribution to the association's A-Vote, a political-action unit, unless the member requests otherwise.
The school board is questioning the legality of using public funds--such as the salaries of office staff who handle teachers' payrolls--to process contributions to a private political action committee, according to Donald Heidorn, superintendent of the Muscle Shoals district.
Mr. Heidorn noted also that re-verse-checkoff systems have been declared illegal at the federal level.
The teachers' association said that it included the contribution in the dues-checkoff because of a perceived need to standardize contributions, and make the process of deducting the funds easier for school districts.
Heat Prevents Opening Of Schools In Two States
The persistent heat wave in the Middle West and Southeast has postponed the opening of school in some Nebraska and Tennesse school districts.
In the Nashville school district, where about 1,200 classrooms have no air-conditioning, schools were scheduled to open at the beginning of last week, but officials said they closed them after they found that the temperature reached 100 degrees in some rooms.
In Nebraska, at least two districts extended their summer vacations an extra week because they do not have air-conditioned buildings, administrators said. Others held school for only a half-day session. Nebraska state law requires that schools operate a minimum of 175 days, but officials said most schools are in session 180 days.
Virginia District Bans Fantasy Game
Concerned about reports that linked suicides and bizarre incidents with the fantasy game "Dungeons and Dragons," the Arlington, Va., school board this month voted to ban the game as a sanctioned extracurricular activity.
The unanimous vote to end endorsement of the game came after the parents of a Hanover County, Va., student filed a $1-million suit against a public high school there. The parents charged that their child's suicide resulted from playing the game as an "organized school activity."
Margaret Bocek, the school-board member who introduced the resolution to ban the game, in which players pose as characters from the Middle Ages, said she has seen studies that demonstrated that the game had more negative than positive effects.
The game--which has an estimated 3 million to 4 million players in the country--is based on a fantasy world in which players act as if they are dragons, monsters, wizards, and dwarfs.
The game has been played as a extracurricular activity for gifted and talented students at Swanson Intermediate School, a spokesman for the Arlington district said. The spokesman said 10 students took part in the game last year.