District News Roundup
The New York City public-school system is failing to provide any special language instruction to 44,000 limited-English-proficient students, almost 40 percent of those entitled by law to such instruction, charges a report by an independent watchdog group.
The report by the Educational Priorities Panel, a coalition of 25 parent and civic groups that monitors management and budget issues confronting the city's board of education, also said that only 30 percent of the nearly 114,000 students entitled to full bilingual-education services in 1985 received them, while another 26 percent were given only extra English instruction.
"In too many cases," the report said, federal, state, and city governments, and the city board of education are not meeting their "minimum legal and moral responsibilities to language-minority students."
The panel said school officials are obligated to provide complete services not only under federal and state law, but under the terms of a 1975 consent decree reached in a suit against the district by a Hispanic-rights group.
The report cites the shortage of bilingual teachers as one reason for the lack of language services, but it also faults both the city and the state for failing to monitor the situation.
Concerned about the possibility of terrorist hijackings, and faced with reduced liability-insurance coverage, the Hamden (Conn.) Board of Education has voted to cancel student trips to Germany and Canada and is reconsidering a previously approved student trip to Spain.
The students' safety became an issue in the wake of the hijacking last month of the Italian ship Achille Lauro, said Elaine E. Fagan, a spokesman for the district. But the board is also concerned about student trips because the school system recently lost some of its liability insurance.
The board had been covered for general liability claims of up to $20 million, Ms. Fagan said, but the city was notified by its insurer that coverage was being reduced to only $1 million.
Parents who operate booster-club concession stands at three Arlington, Va., high schools are up in arms about the county's plan to charge each club $25 for a business license.
"If I was making money, then, yes, I would consider myself a business," said Gigi Thorpe, president of the Wakefield High School Booster Club, which operates a concession stand at all school athletic events. "But every penny I make goes back to the school."
Booster clubs at two other high schools--Yorktown and Washington-Lee--are also affected by the county license tax, according to Jean Marshall Crawford, deputy commissioner of revenue for Arlington County.
Club members suspect that payment of the fee might make them subject to additional business taxes and responsibilities. "We don't feel like, under the circumstances, we should be required to be a business," Ms. Thorpe said.
John G. Milliken, chairman of the Arlington County Board--the local governing body--said his staff is currently determining whether the county tax law can be amended to exclude the booster clubs.
The clubs had previously been exempt from the fee because students operated the concession stands. Returning the stands to the students might reduce the clubs' profits, Ms. Thorpe said, noting that with the parents' help, the Wakefield high school booster club's concession stand raised more than $3,500 last year. Under student control, she added, the stands generated about $500 in profits.