District News Roundup
In an unprecedented ruling, a California judge has ordered the state to reimburse the Long Beach Unified School District for $35- million in desegregation-related expenses, including $7 million in interest accrued since 1977.
Citing a California law saying the state may not order school districts to implement programs without reimbursing them for any expenses they incur, Superior Court Judge Robert Weil ruled this month that a 1977 state mandate that districts adopt desegregation measures made it liable for costs involved.
Although the ruling is binding only in the Long Beach case, more than 30 addi6tional districts have petitioned the state for reimbursement, and dozens more may be eligible to do so, according to state officials.
The state has 60 days to file an appeal in the case, said Alan Ashby, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.
In the aftermath of a controversy in Fairfax County, Va., over the right of a 5-year-old child with aids to attend kindergarten, the superintendent of schools has recommended a formal policy for dealing with students who have the disease.
The policy, currently under review by the county's school board, would set up a panel of medical professionals, school officials, and others to consider such children on a "case by case" basis. It would weigh such factors as medical condition, behavior, neurological and physical development, and possible risks to the child or others.
The controversy in Fairfax County--one of the largest school systems in the country--followed a suit filed last month by the child's mother to force her readmission. School officials maintained that they had removed the girl from the classroom temporarily while they debated whether to allow her to continue attending school.
But the debate gained national attention after The Washington Post quoted Superintendent of Schools Robert R. Spillane as saying, "The kid will be dead in a few months. What's the point of the lawyer?"
Though the newspaper has not retracted its story, it ran a front-page analysis of the incident on Jan. 10, citing the fact that Mr. Spillane and other reporters who had heard his conversation with the Post reporter said the quote had been taken out of context. They said the superintendent wasg anger at the lawyer and not referring to the futility of educating a terminally ill child.
Five South Carolina students who were allegedly strip-searched by a security guard and a physical-education teacher have reached an out-of-court settlement with the Charleston County School District.
Their lawsuit stemmed from a search conducted in 1984 at the Rivers Middle School after a teachers' aide discovered $40 missing from her purse. The settlement is reportedly worth $25,000.
A strip search conducted last November at a Phoenix, Ariz., high school has led three students to file suit seeking damages for emotional trauma.
The suit names as defendants the Phoenix Union High School District and four of its current or former employees.
According to Steven Leshner, a lawyer for the three plaintiffs, all 22 students in a class at Metro Tech Vocational Institute were searched by a teacher or one of three security guards after a student had reported that her wallet was missing. Mr. Leshner said other students in the class are also preparing to sue the school system, but district officials said last week that no other suits had been filed.
The Seattle school board has approved the establishment of what will be the state's first school-based health clinic, but has attached a proviso to the agreement that prohibits the distribution of contraceptives.
The board this month approved by a vote of 6 to 1 a proposal by a group of parents, teachers, and students at Rainier Beach High School to allow the school to rent space for a health clinic.
The amendment prohibiting the distribution of contraceptives, which was approved over the protests of many students, will allow the clinic to offer birth-control counseling and referral. Students would be required to obtain parental consent to receive treatment. And, according to officials, the district would not be liable for actions taken by clinic personnel.
Scheduled to open next fall, the clinic will be administered by the Seattle-King County Health Department on a $45,000 annual budget approved by the Seattle City Council.
Citing the educational and social6benefits of middle schools, the Denver school board has approved a $1-million plan to transfer its 4,300 6th graders to 18 schools now serving 7th and 8th grades only.
Although the plan was designed primarily to expand opportunities and resources for 6th graders, it will also make it easier for elementary schools to accommodate smaller class sizes in the early grades, said Carole McCotter, a school-board member.
Ms. McCotter said shifts in the school-age population had eased the way for the board to approve the plan, which had been deferred since the late 1970's to comply with a court order mandating racial balance in elementary and secondary schools.