District News Roundup
Nevada Judge Upholds Bans On Papers' Birth-Control Ads
A federal judge has upheld the right of school officials in Clark County, Nev., to prohibit student publications from carrying advertisements for birth-control services.
The April 5 ruling, by U.S. District Judge Roger Foley, relied heavily on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hazelwood School District v. Kulmeier--a case that gave administrators broad authority to control student expression in school newspapers, theatrical productions, and other forums that are part of the curriculum.
The Nevada lawsuit was brought four years ago by a local Planned Parenthood clinic that offers birth-control services, pregnancy testing, and counseling. The organization filed suit against the school district after several principals banned or modified some of the clinic advertisements that had been appearing in student publications.
A national Planned Parenthood spokesman called the judge's ruling "very damaging.'' She said the organization had not yet decided whether to appeal the decision.
Parent Seeks Right To Have Her Child Schooled by Television
A Massachusetts woman is suing Wellesley High School for the right to have her daughter attend biology class by closed-circuit television because of an allergy condition.
Mary Ann Hickey claims in the state-court suit that her daughter, Laura, has a condition called "chemically induced immune dysregulation.'' Common chemicals used in biology class can cause rashes, dizziness, heart palpitations, and irregular breathing for the 11th grader, Ms. Hickey claims in the suit.
A local cable company offered to install a closed-circuit television system so that the teen-ager could attend biology class without leaving home. But the school district turned down the offer and instead enrolled the student in a correspondence course.
The plaintiffs charge that the alternative course did not provide an equal education. The girl withdrew from the course after six weeks.
The school district contends that the high school offered the student the best education available through the alternative course. No date has been set for a hearing in the case.
Late last month, a hearing officer for the Massachusetts Board of Education ruled in favor of the high school in the dispute.
Kentucky Teachers Will Work With University Faculty on Skills
Teachers in Lexington, Ky., will begin working next fall with faculty members in the University of Kentucky's education department in a joint venture to improve classroom practice and teacher training.
The project will pair groups of teachers in the Fayette County school system with university faculty members. The project, according to officials, was prompted by the university's participation in the Holmes Group--an organization of universities working to improve the preparation of teachers.
Classroom teachers will be given time off to attend seminars, observe peers, or spend time learning new instructional methods with a faculty member.
The university hopes to benefit by receiving advice from teachers on how training programs might be redesigned to offer better preparation for the classroom.
The university is funding the project for the first year, but officials said that the school district and private donors will be asked to support it in subsequent years.
Texas Agency Moving To Press Mandated Performance Standards
The Texas Education Agency, moving to carry out a state-board mandate of last year that linked state accreditation with school and districtwide performance in required basic-skills tests, has so far cited 11 of its 1,100 districts for various deficiencies.
In its latest action to "target'' schools and districts whose pupils are not meeting performance standards, the TEA appointed an adviser to ensure that the 490-student Anthony Independent School District corrects more than 40 educational deficiencies cited in a 65-page report sent to the district.
The TEA had cited district failings in two previous reviews. Continued failings in 43 areas, ranging from shortages of materials to overly large classes, are depriving students of an adequate education, according to a report issued March 29 by a TEA accreditation team.
The district, located near the New Mexico border 16 miles north of El Paso, is the fourth district to have a TEA monitor reviewing its performance, said Terri Moore, TEA's director of public information.
The district has until May 2 to comply or to produce evidence that it is working to correct the deficiencies. If it does not take the required action by the deadline, TEA could appoint a master with the authority to override decisions of the district's six-member school board, Ms. Moore said.
If the problems persist, the TEA could then take the rare step of revoking the district's accreditation, thus making it ineligible for state funds.
A new desegregation plan for the Savannah, Ga., public schools has been deemed inadequate by the U.S. Justice Department.
The federal agency offered its assessment of the school district's proposal in papers filed with a U.S. district judge on April 5.
The court had approved a desegregation plan proposed by the district in early 1987, but voters last February rejected a $179-million bond issue that would have financed it. School officials submitted a scaled-down version to the court on March 15.
The Justice Department told the court that it had "serious concerns'' that the new plan would leave many one-race schools. The judge has scheduled a hearing on the proposal for April 25.
Officials of the Cumberland County (N.C.) Schools have restricted the use of book bags, large purses, and gym bags by middle and high-school students in an effort to cut down on the number of weapons brought to school.
Sara E. Piland, a spokesman for the district, said 62 students have been expelled so far this year for weapons possession, a 200 percent increase over the number last year.
Most of the weapons found were knives, she added, but in four cases the students were carrying handguns.
According to Ms. Piland, the new policy requires students to put bags in their lockers at the beginning of the school day. At each school, the principal will determine specific times during which students will have access to their lockers.
Students have also been asked to leave their bags open in the lockers, because lockers will be searched, she said.
Currently, the district does not use metal detectors, Ms. Piland said, and officials hope to avoid taking that step.
High-school officials in Providence, R.I., are authorized to confiscate students' electronic telephone pagers--or "beepers''--under a ban on the devices that went into effect this month.
The beepers are frequently used by drug dealers to communicate with students who act as runners, supplying drugs in schools, officials said.
The distraction of the beepers during classes and the status the devices bring to some students have prompted a number of urban school districts to take similar steps.
The Baltimore City, Md., school board approved a ban last month for similar reasons. The Baltimore policy allows school authorities to confiscate beepers for up to 30 days and to return them only to parents. Students who refuse to turn their beepers over are subject to disciplinary action.