District News Roundup
The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that the Port Huron Area School District must offer a male physical-education teacher a position as instructor for a girls' gym class.
The district had established a policy of "same sex" instructors for physical-education classes after it was forced to eliminate all teacher-aide positions. Larry Grinder, a physical-education teacher with seniority, was laid off and then rehired for another position.
Mr. Grinder filed a grievance with the district; an arbitrator ruled that the preamble to the teacher's contract called for "seniority without regard to sex" and that Mr. Grinder should be hired as the girls' gym instructor.
The district filed suit and a lower-court judge decided in its favor.
In its decision, the appeals court ruled that the arbitrator's decision was based on the contract's preamble and the seniority provision and that he was within his rights in concluding that the management-rights provision of the contract does not permit setting gender qualifications.
Officials of the Boston Public Schools have implemented a new high-school curriculum this year that all students will be tested on--and required to pass--before they are promoted.
The "curriculum-referenced tests," which are still being developed, will measure students' competencies in reading, language arts, and mathematics, according to Thomas R. Deveney, manager of testing and evaluation for the school department.
A new curriculum for kindergarten through 8th-grade pupils was implemented last year, and since then a committee of parents, administrators, and business leaders has been meeting to develop a systemwide promotion policy, according to Mr. Deveney. The committee, he said, is attempting to establish several objective performance measures that district officials can use in deciding whether students may go on to the next grade level.
In addition to the curriculum tests, Mr. Deveney said, promotion criteria will include attendance, satisfactory report cards, and the teacher's judgment.
A teacher from Liberal, Kan., was awarded $70,000 in damages for the emotional stress she suffered when the school board decided not to renew her contract.
U.S. District Judge Frank Theis ruled last month that although the school board was within its rights not to rehire Oleta Peters, punitive damages were appropriate because Ms. Peters was not granted the hearing to which she was entitled.
Ms. Peters and another teacher (who died before the out-of-court settlement of her case earlier this year) filed suit in 1972. The teachers claimed that they were not rehired because they had worked on union issues with the National Education Association. Lawyers for the school board argued that the board decided not to rehire the teachers because of budgetary problems and declining enrollment.
Last spring, 10 of the 13 members of the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, high-school basketball team were caught drinking alcoholic beverages; they were dismissed from the team and had to forfeit a state championship game. This winter and spring, partly in response to that episode, the district's basketball team--and all other secondary-school students--will attend mandatory classes on drug and alcohol abuse.
The incident with the basketball team was one example of what school officials describe as a growing perception among underage students that drinking, although illegal, is acceptable. A "growing concern" about the situation is what prompted officials of the 7,000-student system to establish the re-quired anti-drug classes, according to Douglas Cresswell, an administrative assistant to the superintendent who was principal of the high school until last year. "It wasn't just that one incident," Mr. Cresswell said.
The details of the program, which will receive a $7,000 grant from the U.S. Education Department, have not yet been worked out. Initially, the district will send 10 teachers and one administrator to a training session in Seattle this fall. Those teachers will train other staff members, Mr. Cresswell said.
The drug and alcohol curriculum will most likely be used in health and biology classes, Mr. Cresswell said.