District News Roundup
Teachers and administrators in the Westbrook (Conn.) Public Schools have donated some of their sick leave to a fellow faculty member who has an illness that will require her to miss the entire school year.
When the Westbrook Teachers Association learned last month of the teacher's illness, the group sent a formal request to the town's board of education requesting that the 60 teachers in the district be permitted to donate their sick leave to Alice Coes, the teacher who is ill.
The school board voted unanimously to approve the request, said Robert J. Schreck, superintendent of schools. So far, the teachers have donated 57 days of sick leave to Ms. Coes.
"It is a great treat to be superintendent of a district where you have a board, administrators, and teachers so concerned about a fellow teacher," Mr. Schreck said.
Teachers in the school district usually are entitled to 15 days of sick leave per year and may accrue up to 180 days during their career if they are tenured.
Said Not Liable
For Alleged Rape
The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that a state special-education center cannot be held accountable for the alleged rape and abuse of a female student by one or more staff members.
The ruling affirmed an Oakland County judge's dismissal of the suit, which was filed by the student's family against the Oak Park Developmental Training Center and its administrator and supervisor.
The center serves public-school students with severe physical and mental impairments in the southern and western portions of Oakland County.
In their suit, the parents of the girl claimed that she had been sexually abused because of negligent hiring, training, and supervision practices. But the appellate court ruled that the defendants were not liable for the alleged incident because of a state law "that provides for immunity for governmental agencies when they are performing tasks within their scope as governmental agencies," said James Stu-art, the defendants' lawyer.
The family's lawyer, Jeffrey Stewart, said the case has been appealed. No criminal charges were brought in the case, although one employee who was a suspect in the alleged incident is no longer working at the facility, Mr. Stuart explained.
Blind Peoria Student
Will Be Excused
From Driving Course
A legally blind Peoria, Ill., high-school senior apparently has been excused from a state-mandated driver-education course after state officials intervened to urge district officials to find a substitute course for the 17-year-old girl.
The student, who has asked to be identified only by her first name, Kimberly, cannot see beyond an outstretched hand. For that reason, she sought to be excused from the course. But based on a narrow interpretation of state law requring driver training for all students, Peoria district officials insisted she enroll in the classroom portion of the course. She has been required to take quizzes despite the fact the course textbook is unavailable in the large print she needs.
The legal counsel for the State Board of Education has told district officials that state and federal laws requiring an individualized education program for handicapped students supersede the driver-training mandate.
"There's nothing in the law that requires people to act in a silly or ridiculous manner," said Julia Dempsey, the state board's lawyer. ''It's silly to put a blind student in a 30-hour driver-education course."
David Barnwell, principal at Woodruff High School, where Kimberly is enrolled, said Ms. Dempsey's interpretation contradicts earlier advice the district received from the state. But he said if her judgment is correct, the school will find a substitute course for Kimberly.
Tucson Board Offers
Plan To Improve
School officials in Tucson, Ariz., have presented the U.S. Education Department's civil-rights office with a plan intended to increase minority-student participation in academically demanding courses.
Ron Curry, legal adviser to the Tucson Unified School District, said officials in the office for civil rights have not yet responded to the plan. It was drafted in response to a complaint filed with ocr in April 1983 by a group of Hispanic parents.
According to Mr. Curry, the parents alleged that the school district's "delivery of education to gifted mi-nority students was not equal to services delivered to white students." The parents also alleged that the district provided minority students with poorer facilities and less able teachers than white students had.
Under the plan, the Tucson school board has committed itself to improving the curricula at the district's three predominantly minority high schools, Mr. Curry said.
One of the three schools would be converted to a magnet school emphasizing instruction in mathematics, science, and high-technology subjects.
The plan also requires the school board to ensure that by January 1987 minority students will constitute 20 percent of the total enrollment at the district's high school for gifted and talented students.