District News Roundup
A monthlong teacher strike in Michigan City, Ind., ended late last month after union leaders and administrators reached an agreement on a three-year contract that provides teachers with a 6-percent salary increase next year and 5-percent raises in each of the following years.
It had been the longest teacher strike in the state in 12 years.
Under the new contract, the teachers also will receive a 25- to 30-percent increase in health benefits and the administrators agreed to binding arbitration, said Robert Montfort, director of communications for the Indiana State Teachers Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association.
According to school officials, teachers had asked for an 11.2-percent salary increase.
Indiana state law prohibits teacher strikes.
Other teacher strikes have ended in the Union (Ind.) County school district, Watseka (Ill.) Unit District 9, and the Penn-Cambria (Pa.) School District.
A group of "outstanding" high-school students in Fort Worth, Tex., turned to violence in an attempt to rid their school of students involved in theft and drugs, a local school official reported last week.
As many as 10 school "atheletes and high achievers," all of whom were male and had never been in trouble before, "decided it was up to them to get rid of the bad elements in the school through intimidation and threat," said Joe R. Sherrod, spokesman for the Fort Worth Independent Schools.
In a recent spree, the group, which called themselves the "Legion of Doom," bombed one student's car, shot out the window of another car, and hung a dead cat from the steering wheel of still another, Mr. Sherrod said.
The incidents took place off school property, the spokesman said, so officials at Paschal High School, where the students are enrolled, were unaware of the problem until police notified them last month, he said.
According to press reports, the police attribute about 30 violent incidents to the group since last December. The students have been questioned by police and the case will be presented to a grand jury, the reports stated.
A San Francisco incident in which two armed police officers entered a 5th-grade classroom for a training exercise has prompted calls for an investigation of the occurrence and the firing of the elementary-school principal who allowed it.
On March 13, two city policemen on a training stakeout at an abandoned junior high school asked Virginia Gordon, principal of the nearby E.R. Taylor Elementary School, if they could use one of her classrooms as an observation platform, according to Felix Duag, a spokesman for the San Francisco Unified School District.
Ms. Gordon said she did not have an empty classroom but could take students out of one of the rooms for the police to use, Mr. Duag said. Press reports, however, said the police barged into the room with rifles pointed, ordered the teacher and 33 students to leave, and frightened a number of children. "The story has been totally confused," Mr. Duag said.
The questions that remain unanswered, he noted, are why the policemen moved from their observation point in the abandoned school to the elementary school, and whether Ms. Gordon's decision to allow them to use the classroom was right.
Superintendent Robert Alioto has refused to act on calls to fire Ms. Gordon, saying that she is one of the district's finest principals and that she made an error in judgment, Mr.6Duag said. Attempts to reach San Francisco police officials for comment last week were unsuccessful.
A man wielding a small-caliber rifle held three elementary-school students hostage in their north Detroit public-school classroom last week before surrendering to police without harming the children.
The man, whom police identified as Alim Sanders, 19, of Hamtramck, a city near Detroit, took the three 2nd graders hostage after entering the Loving Elementary School through its only unlocked door last Tuesday.
After entering one of the school's classrooms, he sat by the teacher and ordered her to leave with all but the three students.
Four hours later, the drama ended when police carried the man out of the building and rushed him off to jail. No one was injured in the incident.
Hundreds of people who had gathered near the school during the incident shouted "kill him, kill him" as Mr. Sanders was dragged off by the police. Arthur Jefferson, Detroit's superintendent of schools, arrived at the school shortly after the incident began. He praised police and school security officials for their efforts.
Police said they did not know the gunman's motive, although during negotiations with officers Mr. Sanders had asked for $8,000 and transportation to Metropolitan Airport. In the five minutes before he surrendered, police said, the gunman threatened the lives of the children.
Three Illinois lawmakers have proposed a $95-million school-reform plan that would involve parents, teachers, and school administrators in improving Chicago's schools.
The proposal, now being considered in state legislative committees, would offer planning grants of $30 per pupil to establish councils made up of parents and educators. High-school councils would include stuinued on Following Page Continued from Preceding Page
dents. The project, according to its sponsors, is designed to improve basic-skills achievement, increase student attendance and graduation rates, and bolster preparation for postsecondary education and employment.
Under the proposal, members of councils in each school would assess their school's strengths and weaknesses; develop imporvement objectives; establish a budget and strategies for meeting those objectives; and design staff-development program for retraining teachers.
The sponsors--State Representatives Carol Moseley Braun and Al Ronan and Senator William Marovitz--said their proposal is modeled after a similar plan in California.
The program's cost is estimated to be $15.5 million for the first year and $80 million for the remainder of the anticipated three-year phase-in period.
A federal appeals court said late last month that it will order the St. Louis school board and the state of Missouri to issue up to $40 million in school bonds if city voters reject such a bond issue one more time.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in a March 23 ruling stemming from the city's long-running school-desegregation case, said the funds were desperately needed to repair dilapidated buildings that house many of the city's predominantly black schools and magnet-school programs.
Under state law, bond issues can only be approved by a two-thirds majority of those voting. According to Margaret Polcyn, a spokesman for the city school board, St. Louis voters have not given their approval to such an issue since 1962. Several bond issues have been rejected in the last three years.
The circuit court also directed the federal district judge overseeing the metropolitan area's desegregation plan to order state and St. Louis officials to prepare a $40-million building-renovation plan. Ms. Polcyn said the court did not set a deadline for submission of the plan but indicated that "it wanted it as soon as possible."
"We're very pleased with the direction that the court gave us, but we feel the $40 million is a drop in the bucket compared to what we need for repairs," Ms. Polcyn said. She pointed put that the last bond issue rejected by city voters sought more than $200 million for such repairs.
Kansas City, Mo., police are investigating suspicions that six infants, all of whom attended the same church-operated day-care center, may have been abused by staff members. All six children were found to have limb fractures of a type that is usually caused by exerting twisting force, according to Captain Marylyn Brauninger, commander of the robbery and sex-crimes unit of the Kansas City Police Department.
Although authorities have not named any suspects in the case, they have issued seven grand-jury subpoenas and have requested that the director and six employees of the nursery of the We Serve Humanity Day School take polygraph tests. The grand-jury investigation was scheduled to begin last week.
The 12-student nursery, which has been operated by the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church for three years and is not subject to state licensing laws, has been closed by the church's minister, Captain Brauninger said. The church also operates two separate child-care centers that serve 148 children; they remained open last week.
Last year, the church voluntarily applied for a license to operate the centers, Captain Brauninger said, but their applications were returned in December because of errors in filing.