District News Roundup
To counter the large and still-growing number of high-school dropouts in Los Angeles, a school-board task force has recommended assigning counselors and psychologists to as many as 12 area schools at a cost of $1 million.
The proposed dropout-prevention program would serve 50 to 100 students at each of the schools, which experience the highest dropout rates in the district. The program would also encourage dropouts to return to school.
As many as 42 percent of Los Angeles high-school students may drop out of school before completing their studies, according to the panel's 300-page report, which was submitted to the board this month.
The actual dropout rate is difficult to calculate, the report states, because traditional school-system reporting procedures do not account for students who transfer to other schools.
A task-force survey of 50 schools found that nearly half of all dropouts in 1983-84--47.9 percent--were Hispanic, 25 percent were black, and 22 percent were white.
The task force also surveyed nearly 5,000 administrators, teachers,3parents, and students, and found that among the most frequently cited reasons for dropping out were poor grades, pregnancy, and family problems. The board is expected to act on the report and recommendations by the end of this month.
The American Civil Liberties Union plans to take "appropriate legal action" against the Elyria, Ohio, public schools on behalf of 23 junior-high-school girls who were searched by school officials investigating an apparent robbery.
The searches occurred late last month after a student told her physical-education teacher that her watch and ring were missing from her locker, according to Superintendent Calvin Leader. The teacher detained the class after conferring with an assistant principal. Then the teacher and two other female staff members ordered the girls to first remove their shoes and socks and then to raise or take one arm out of their upper garments and undo the tops of their slacks. The missing items were not recovered.
Mr. Leader said he was directed by the city school board to investigate the matter following complaints from parents and coverage of the incident by the local media. On Feb. 8, he released a statement defending the staff members' action. At the same time, he announced the creation of a task force composed of parents and school officials to develop a districtwide policy on student searches.
"While we applaud this decision, their actions have not addressed the grievances of the parents and students," said Harvey Getler, chairman of the local branch of the aclu "We hope we can resolve this issue before we have to move to court."
The Cincinnati Federation of Teachers has planned a one-day walkout this week to protest stalled bargaining talks and what its leaders call "education quality" issues.
Teachers in the district, represented by the 2,126-member union, have worked without a contract since Dec. 31, when their two-year pact expired. The walkout is intended to highlight such bargaining issues as wages, benefits, and transfer and lay-off procedures. The teachers' union is seeking an 11-percent wage increase; the school board has offered 5 percent.
The strike is also intended to call attention to a variety of proposals that union officials characterize as "educational quality" issues and school-board negotiators call "management rights" issues. Those include limiting class size and incorporating into teachers' contracts a policy that would give them greater control over students' grades and promotions.
School officials estimate the cost of meeting the federation's proposal at more than $15 million. The 50,000-student district's estimated budget is $163 million, not including that cost.
The Baltimore City Public Schools has launched a truancy hotline in an attempt to address what officials say is one of the worst attendance rates in the country.
"Our goal is to try to involve the public in helping us with our attendance problem," said Irene Pinn Hill, who is coordinating the pilot project. "It will be for people to call in to tell us of kids on the street, students not in school, or of a house where they suspect children may be at home out of school."
The hotline, which started this month and has averaged nine calls a day, is open from 8:45 A.M. to 4 P.M. on weekdays. It is the system's latest in a series of efforts to improve the current 84-percent attendance rate by the end of the school year.
The school-system employee who answers the phone can call on city police to pick up pupils who are not in school if the information given as to their whereabouts is specific enough. If the situation involves a problem at a student's home, Ms. Hill said, a school social worker or one of the district's 14 "home visitors" might intervene.