District News Roundup
After a six-month investigation, a special grand jury has called for major improvements in New York City's handling of child-abuse cases.
The grand jury, convened at the request of Bronx County District Attor-ney Mario Merola, issued 38 recommendations for preventing child abuse and neglect and for treating its victims. It also suggested changes in the way such cases are reported, investigated, and prosecuted.
More than 134,000 children in the state were abused or neglected last year, 56,000 of them in New York City, noted the grand jury's 77-page report titled "The New York City Experience With Child Abuse: A Lesson for the Nation." Among its recommendations:
State hotline operators must be better trained to interview callers in emergency situations, and the hotel5lline should employ operators fluent in the major languages spoken in the state.
Employment standards for child-protective-service caseworkers and supervisors must be raised to ensure professionalism and dedication. Caseworker applicants should be fingerprinted and psychologically tested to ensure that they have "a suitable temperament" to work with children.
The New York City police department should train a special unit to be exclusively devoted to the investigation of child-abuse cases.
Orders by Michigan's superintendent of public instruction to disband noontime Bible-club meetings has prompted a lawsuit by a group of Allendale teachers, students, and parents.
The suit, filed last month in Ottawa County Circuit Court on behalf of three teachers, four parents, and three students, states that the superintendent's request to end the meetings at the Allendale Elementary School is a violation of the First Amendment.
In April, Phillip E. Runkel, the superintendent of public instruction, ordered the school to end the sessions within 60 days. The meetings are held by a private Bible club during lunchtime hours.
Two other Michigan school districts have been entangled in a similar controversy. Last October, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction, at the request of the state attorney general, ordering the Tri-County School District to stop the club meetings. That case is still pending.
A few months later, the Hudsonville district voluntarily shifted its Bible-club sessions off-campus.
Gerald F. Young, state assistant attorney general, said the superintendent's office only investigates a district if a complaint has been lodged.
A Connecticut Superior Court judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Hartford City Council earlier this year to block the city's school board from honoring a contract it negotiated with the local teacher's union.
According to Lynn E. Dolan, public-information officer for the Hartford schools, the council wants to block a contract that would increase the average salary of teachers from $24,300 to $37,600 over four years. That contract is scheduled to take effect July 1.
The board and the Hartford Federation of Teachers had sought to have the council's motion for an injunction dismissed, said Robert L. Wyld, a lawyer for the board. But last week, Judge George D. Stoughton denied the request to dismiss the case, noting that "there is a factual dispute that cannot be resolved without evidence being presented."
The council, which has the right to review and reject all city labor contracts not reached through binding arbitration, claims that while the teachers' contract was negotiated during the binding-arbitration phase of the process, the settlement was negoitated outside of the pro-cess and before the deadline for a binding decision.
The council maintains that the board "should have submitted the negotiated agreement to the council for approval, instead of going back through the arbitration panel," which approved the agreement, Mr. Wyld said.
A District of Columbia special panel has asked the city government to create a permanent office to develop and administer programs to help reduce the teen-age-pregnancy rate in the city, which is among the top five in the nation.
The panel, appointed by Mayor Marion Barry Jr., said the high rate of teen-age pregnancy was linked with other serious social problems, such as infant mortality, low birthweight, the school-dropout rate, and unemployment.
One in every five mothers giving birth to a live infant in the city is a teen-ager, the report states.
The District's infant-mortality rate, at l8.2 per 1,000 births, is the highest of any U.S. city, according to the report. The high-school-dropout rate stands at 17 percent annually, and the 40 percent unemployment rate of black teen-agers is also "one of the highest in the nation."
Thinking of teen-age pregnancy as a disease that can be cured by contraception or sex education "bypasses the crucial issue of motivation," the report says, and limits the efforts of those seeking to reduce the rate of teen-age pregnancy.
Adolescent pregnancy "disproportionately affects those individuals who are in the lower socioeconomic ranks of society," and who "lack self esteem, are fatalistic, are chronically depressed and needy," the report states.
Two Sheridan, Ore., school-board members who live together but are not married were victors recently in a recall election sponsored by townspeople who opposed their board memberships on "moral grounds."
Clinton Ogle, 39, a seven-year veteran of the board, retained his seat by a 343-to-293 vote in the May 21 election. Sandra Lambert, 34, who has served on the board for two years, kept her seat by a 328-to-312 margin. Sheridan board members serve four-year terms.
Sponsors of the recall said they felt Mr. Ogle and Ms. Lambert were ''not a conducive example of leadership for our children and the constituents in our school district," according to the Rev. Jerry Warren of the Church of the Nazarene in Sheridan.
Mr. Warren, who filed the petition urging a recall vote in April, said he objected to the fact that Mr. Ogle and Ms. Lambert were married to other people at the time they began living together in March of l984.
Ms. Lambert, who described Sheridan as "a small town where everybody knows everybody else's business," argued that the recall petition was based not on her "job performance" but rather on "what I do in my own house, on my own time."
The two requirements for serving on the school board of the town of 2,200 residents, she noted, are "that you live in the district, and that you be a registered voter."
The Amoco Foundation will provide $667,000 to retrain 120 Chicago teachers as mathematics and science educators to help alleviate a shortage in those fields.
Some $310,000 will go to DePaul University to cover 80 percent of tuition costs for 40 high-school teachers who seek to earn master's degrees in mathematics or science education over an 18-month period, according to foundation officials.
The foundation will also give $357,000 to the National College of Education in Evanston to continue a teacher-retraining program that was launched, with foundation support, in 1983. The money will offset expenses of 80 7th- and 8th-grade teachers who seek to earn 16 semester-hours of credit in mathematics and science instruction over two years.
Beginning this fall, the Minneapolis Public Schools will offer high-school students on-the-job training in finance and economics under a program sponsored by the American Express Company.
The Minneapolis Academy of Finance, to be located at Edison High School, will provide "the necessary opportunity for high-school students to direct their education for the free-enterprise system," said Richard R. Green, superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools.
The four-year program--which3will initially involve 23 students from seven high schools--includes courses in accounting, finance, and economics as well as internships at local financial institutions, according to school officials.
The academy will be modeled after similar programs in New York City, Phoenix, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. This fall, about 600 students will participate in academies in the four cities.
The state of Ohio must help to pay for past and future costs of desegregating public schools in Dayton, a federal district judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Carl Rubin's May 24 order in the 13-year-old lawsuit, Brinkman v. Gilligan, requires the state to share the costs equally with the city's school board. Under the order, Dayton officials will be required to provide Judge Rubin with a updated summary of desegregation costs, estimated at $44 million in 1982.
The lawsuit, filed by a group of black parents in April 1972, charged the city and state with maintaining a segregated school system in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court's ban on such systems in 1954. Judge Rubin ruled that that there was evidence of a cumulative violation of the 14th Amendment's equal-protection clause. He ordered the development of a plan, implemented in 1976, that covered all schools in the city.
The Supreme Court overturned the ruling in 1977, saying that it was unjustifiably broad. Setting forth a new standard for the implementation of systemwide remedies, the Court said federal judges must determine the "incremental segregative effect" of each violation of the Constitution on the racial composition of the school system as a whole. Systemwide remedies, it said, can be ordered only if the violations have a systemwide impact.
On remand, Judge Rubin ruled that there was evidence of such an impact, thus justifying a systemwide plan. The Court declined to review the case a second time in 1978.
A federal appeals court has ruled that the Prince William, Va., County school board illegally dismissed a learning-disabled boy from school for his involvement in a drug deal.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a lower court's decision last month that because the student, Jerry Malone, was learning-disabled, he could not be expelled, since his behavior was the result of his handicap. The student, now 16, had agreed to serve as an intermediary for two nonhandicapped students in a drug deal, the court reasoned, because he was easily swayed by his peers and motivated by a desire to be accepted, according to Gerard S. Rugel, the lawyer for the Malones.
Under P.L. 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, a special-education student cannot be expelled if his wrongdoing is related to his handicap.
The boy was expelled from the Rippon Middle School in March 1983 for one month and then received home-education services for one month. His parents then appealed the case to a local hearing officer, who determined that his behavior was related to his handicap.
That decision was upheld by the state hearing officer. The school board then filed suit in U.S. District Court, which ruled in favor of the parents, as did the Fourth Circuit Court.
Kathleen S. Mehfoud, the lawyer for the school board, said the board has not decided whether it will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.