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Denver school-board members have given the nod to James P. Scamman, now superintendent of the South Bend, Ind., school system, to head their 60,000-student district. The 46-year-old Mr. Scamman, reputedly an aggressive leader who generates antipathy as well as enthusiasm, won 4-3 approval by the board after weeks of intense debate in Denver over his qualifications in comparison with those of the other finalists, Assistant Superintendent of Baltimore Schools Lewis H. Richardson Jr. and Carle E. Stenmark, the Denver administrator who had been serving as acting superintendent.

Mr. Scamman, who almost derailed the selection process again when he made known that he hoped to be paid a salary of $100,000, has signed a three-year contract for $75,000 annually--$5,000 more than his predecessor, Joseph Brzeinski, who resigned last spring.


The chief justice of Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has urged schools to step up their efforts to reach students who risk involvement with the criminal-justice system.

"We have a responsibility to those who are lost, and we have a responsibility to those to come to make sure they are not lost," Chief Justice Robert N.C. Nix Jr. told Philadelphia teachers in a recent speech. "You have the capacity to transform a drab, dull existence into an exciting, challenging experience. You have the opportunity to convert the grayness of ignorance into the brilliance of understanding."

"You have problems, but this is the time to be innovative," he said. "This is the time to throw away doctrine and lesson plans."


Commissioner of Education Robert McElrath of Tennessee asked state lawmakers late last month to give him the power to cut five days from the state's new minimum 180-day school year for districts that have had to close because of winter storms. Arguing that each mandated school day costs taxpayers $9 million, the state chief said districts that missed 10 days this winter should be allowed to waive five and make up only the other five. "Instead of making instructional days as sacred as possible," Mr. McElrath said, "let's make 175 days of instruction minimal and make it meaningful." The 180-day year was mandated under the 1984 legislature's Comprehensive Education Reform Act.


Derrick Bell, an expert on school-desegregation law and the author of Race, Racism, and American Law, has resigned from the deanship of the University of Oregon Law School over a faculty hiring decision. Mr. Bell, who was one of the drafters of the federal government's 1968 school-desegregation guidelines, said the law-school faculty's decision not to hire a qualified minority candidate created a situation in which he "could not remain on as dean."

He will remain on the faculty after his June 30 departure from the dean's job.

Alan John Hu, 17, of La Jolla (Calif.) High School in this month won the top scholarship--$12,000--in the 44th annual Westinghouse Science Talent Search. Alan was one of 40 winners from 13 states and Puerto Rico who competed for $89,500 in scholarships and cash awards during a five-day Science Talent Institute in Washington, D.C. The search is administered by the nonprofit Science Service and has been sponsored by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation since 1942.

Alan's research combined mathematics with computer science to reduce the time spent locating specific records from a file of information. Alan, who is first in his class at La Jolla, plans to study mathematics and computer science at Stanford University.

The second-place, $10,000 scholarship went to Anna Asher Penn, 17, who attends the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools High School. For her project, she studied DNA clones from one segment of a bacterial virus that can be used to study how viruses, such as influenza, spread. Michael Friedman, 17, of Stuyvesant High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., received the third-place, $10,000 scholarship for a research project on number theory.

Other scholarship winners were: Anthony Mario Ciabarra, 17, Cheltenham High School, Wyncote, Pa.; Michael William Gesner, 17, Cardinal Spellman High School, Avon, Mass; Allan Moises Goldstein, 17, Cheltenham High School, Wyncote, Pa.; Michael Steven Graziano, 17, City Honors High School, Buffalo; Mark Kantrowitz, 17, Maimonides School, Brookline, Mass.; John Shu-Shin Kuo, 17, Bronx High School of Science, Bronx, N.Y.; and Audrey Zelicof, 16, Stuyvesant High School, Brooklyn, N.Y.;

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