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The entire teaching staff of Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Conn., is scheduled to participate in a one-day workshop run by instructors from the Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking in New York, which specializes in teaching teachers how to teach writing.

According to Paul Connolly, director of the institute, it is the first time the entire faculty of any high school has attended one of the Bard workshops on writing. He said that six instructors from the institute have been assigned to teach the 75 Barlow teachers.

"What we intend to do at Barlow is teach our teachers, in all disciplines, the techniques of using writing as a teaching and learning tool," said Nelson Quinby, the high school's principal. Although Barlow students have consistently scored higher than the state and national averages on the Scholastic Aptitute Tests, Mr. Quinby maintains that the school must "strive continually to become better."

By a vote of 31 to 15, the Chicago City Council approved a $499-million property-tax levy for 1984-85 that will keep Chicago's public schools from running out of funds and possibly closing down in March.

Under law, the council must approve the tax levy submitted by the board of education by Oct. 31 of each year, according to a spokesman for the city council's finance committee.

Nonetheless, 15 aldermen objected to the levy. Several aldermen argued that the school board should be more fiscally responsible to taxpayers. They said they wanted to test in court the law requiring the council to "rubber stamp" levy proposals submitted by the board.

A school-bus matron became a heroine to 14 special-education students in New York City after she brought their runaway school bus to a safe stop.

The driver of the bus apparently blacked out as he crossed a busy Manhattan intersection the morning of Nov. 1.

After the school bus struck several vehicles, the matron aboard the bus was able to get to the driver, pull the unconscious man from behind the steering wheel and bring the bus to a stop.

"The children were screaming," said Vivian Ruff, the bus matron. "All I could think of were my children. I did what I could to protect the children." None of the pupils, who are between the age of 6 and 12, was injured, Ms. Ruff said, and she credited that to the fact that they were wearing seatbelts.

The learning-disabled students were on their way to public schools in East Harlem. The carrier, Varsity Bus Co. of Queens, assigns matrons to all buses carrying special-education students.

The special-education director of the Plaquemines Parish (La.) School District, who was dismissed from her job in May 1980 but was reinstated in Oct. 1982 as the result of a court order, has filed a $2.5-million lawsuit against the Plaquemines Parish School Board, its president, Frederick Deiler, and the district's former superintendent of schools, Raymond Shetley.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, claims that Mary Dell Franceski, a tenured teacher, suffered "mental anguish and damage to reputation" when she was unjustly dismissed by the school board three years ago.

The dismissal, Ms. Franceski claims, was "engineered" by Mr. Shetley, who "generated" charges against her by contacting people who allegedly had differences with her; she said he urged those people to write "letters of accusation" outlining instances of incompetence and willful neglect of duty.

The suit, filed last month, also accuses Mr. Shetley and Mr. Deiler of "acting together" to have the school board accept the charges.

The suit claims that following a tenure hearing in the summer of 1980, a school-board vote dismissing Ms. Franceski was "improperly taken and recorded" by Mr. Deiler.

A Texas district near El Paso has implemented some unusual new course requirements. All 8th-grade students must take typing and reach a speed of 30 words a minute, and 9th-grade students must complete a semester-long vocational-skills course that teaches 36 skills, including cosmetology, masonry, plumbing, and sewing.

The new vocational-skills course and a companion semester in computer literacy have cost the district nearly $200,000, raised entirely from local sources, said Sue Shook, assistant superintendent of the Socorro Independent School District.

The course provides a few days' instruction in all 36 occupations and a student spends a few days trying his or her hand at each one, Ms. Shook said, adding that the program was started because parents had demanded better job preparation for their children. The district is is rated one of the 20 poorest in the state, she added.

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