Districts News Roundup
New York Official
Calls For National
Study of Suicide
The suicide of another teen-ager this month in an affluent community in New York State has prompted Lt. Gov. Alfred DelBello to call for the establishment of a national commission to study the problem of teen-age suicide.
"He feels we must have a broad mandate to research the full extent of the problem," said David Tooley, a spokesman for the Lieutenant Governor.
Mr. DelBello is also working on a proposal to present to New York lawmakers that would require suicide-prevention programs in every school in the state, said Mr. Tooley.
Seven teen-agers from suburbs north of New York City have committed suicide this year.
Research projects sponsored by the National Institute on Mental Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control are in the process of studying an apparent increase in the number of "cluster" suicides, those in which one student's suicide appears to provoke others. (See Education Week, March 28, 1984.)
Two physical-education teachers at the James A. Farley Middle School in Stony Point, N.Y., have been charged with third-degree assault for allegedly marking a 14-year-old student's back with an electrical engraving machine.
Both teachers, Louis Avino and Paul DiVico, entered pleas of not guilty late last month before Town Justice Louis Vicare.
According to the complaint filed by the boy's parents, the teachers pulled the boy into a coach's office and marked his back with an engraver apparently used to mark gym equipment. As a result, the boy suffered L- and X-shaped welts and lacerations, the complaint states.
The teachers have been suspended with full pay and if found guilty of the misdemeanor charge, will lose their positions at the school, said Glen Eberhart, superintendent of the North Rockland School District.
State Schools Chief
Sends Team To Tend
At the request of the Clarendon County board of trustees, Charlie G. Williams, South Carolina's superintendent of schools, has sent a six-member team of administrators from the State Department of Education to oversee the operation of the district's schools.
Clarendon County School District 1--one of the original plaintiffs in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education suit--was the subject of a recent series of newspaper articles describing "general dissatisfaction with the schools," according to Mont Morton, spokesman for the state department of education.
Although the articles did not report any misappropriation of funds, Mr. Morton said the series highlighted local allegations of mismanagement and poor student achievement, and raised questions about the adequacy of financial support for instruction.
Following the appearance of the articles, according to Mr. Morton, the board of trustees fired Alonzo P. Swinton Sr., the district's superintendent, and asked the state superintendent to appoint an interim administrator.
Mr. Morton said that in addition to an interim administrator, Mr. Williams also sent several auditors to "close out the school year in an orderly manner, prepare a proposed budget for fiscal 1985, administer an efficient summer-school program, and order the opening of a new school year in the fall."
Meanwhile, he said, the board of trustees has begun a search for a new superintendent to run the 1,500-student school system.
Closes Its Doors
The Fairview School, Iowa's only one-room schoolhouse, closed its doors for good this week because the 1,180-student Mid-Prairie Community School District could not afford to operate it any longer.
According to Lester D. Dollinger, the district's superintendent, enrollment at the Fairview School fell from the 25 students it had when it opened four years ago to 11 students this year.
"It's rather like what happened with the neighborhood schools," he said. "Everybody loved the concept, but many of the schools had to close for financial and demographic reasons. ... We have plenty of space available in our three other K-6 schools."
"We're not in the business to make money, but we can't afford to lose money, either. It is difficult to see us go into the negative side of the ledger to provide services for a small minority of the population when we may have to cut back for the majority of the population," he said.
The school was intended to serve Amish families in east-central Iowa, according to Mr. Dollinger.
Food Firm Sues
Over Major Contract
ARA Services Inc., a Philadel-phia-based conglomerate, has filed suit in federal court against the city's public-school system and five members of the local school board contending officials illegally awarded a $9.5-million food-service contract to another local concern that had submitted a higher bid.
ARA argued in the suit filed this month that the school board's 5-4 vote this month to give Freshie Company its food-service business--involving 10 million school meals a year--violated the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and state and federal laws on bidding practices.
The losing firm bid $9 million for the contract, $500,000 less than Freshie.
Lawyers for the school district and the Freshie Company, which was also named in the suit, have said they will seek dismissal of the complaint on the basis that the federal court has no jurisdiction in the matter.