District News Roundup
Teacher Sues Teens Who Accused Her of Having Sex With Student
A Texas high-school teacher who was fired over her alleged sexual involvement with a student who later committed suicide has filed a $400,000 slander suit against her accusers.
Lou Ann Hogan, who taught English and Spanish at Clark High School in San Antonio has also sued the Northside Independent School District for firing her without due process, according to Bonnie Ellison, a spokesman for the district.
Ms. Hogan was fired March 10 on charges of "immorality'' after four teen-agers--three of whom were Clark students--told administrators that they had seen the teacher and a student have sex twice at the student's home.
The 16-year-old student, Chad Cadenhead, later committed suicide.
Emerson Banack Jr., a lawyer who represents the school district, said the boy had previously undergone psychiatric care, and that he did not leave a suicide note.
Ms. Hogan filed slander suits seeking $100,000 from each of the four teen-agers who made the claims. She contends that she only counseled Mr. Cadenhead about his emotional problems and never had any other emotional or physical relationship with him, Ms. Ellison said.
Because of the pending suits, attorneys representing the four boys advised them not to testify at the school-board hearing to determine Ms. Hogan's status.
However, the boys offered written testimony on the alleged sexual encounters and were interviewed extensively by school officials, which Mr. Banack said was enough for administrators to make the decision to fire the teacher.
Health Officials Close School With High Lead Levels in Paint
Citing a potential for lead poisoning, Stamford, Conn., health officials have closed an elementary school in the city, after finding high lead levels in paint chips taken from the school. It is the first time a school in Connecticut has been ordered closed for that reason.
Dr. Andrew McBride, Stamford's health director, ordered the K.T. Murphy Elementary School closed after finding high levels of lead in more than 30 of the 40 paint-chip samples examined by his department. He said the department took the samples after a parent of a kindergartner in the school complained that the paint chips might pose a health problem.
School officials, who also found high levels of lead in the paint of 10 other elementary schools, have moved the school's 474 students to another site while they complete an abatement and renovation project at the school. Both students and teachers are being examined for possible lead poisoning.
'Clamor' Over Choice Process Leads to Proposal for Lottery
The superintendent of the Prince George's County, Md., school district, which operates one of the fastest-growing magnet-schools programs in the nation, wants to use a lottery, instead of in-person registration, for at least some seats in the popular magnet programs.
Superintendent John A. Murphy's suggestion responds to sharp complaints from some of the 1,700 parents who last month waited in line outside a local high school--in some cases for days--to enroll their children. More than 4,300 applications have since been processed for admission to the magnet programs next fall, officials say.
Mr. Murphy would like to use a lottery to fill between 25 percent and 30 percent of the approximately 1,500 seats available in the magnet program, said Brian J. Porter, school-system spokesman.
The remaining seats would be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, he said.
Mr. Porter described local reaction to last month's wait as a "fairly sharp public and official clamor for opening up the system a little bit more.''
An open lottery system was used four years ago during the county's first magnet-school registration, but it was changed to a system of in-person registration when parents complained about fairness, he said.
A federal jury in Alexandria, Va., has concluded that the city's school board violated the First Amendment rights of an elementary-school teacher who was suspended for two days last year with pay for remarks she made at a parents' meeting.
June Stern, a teacher at John Adams Elementary School, was suspended following comments she made at a meeting of the school's parent-teacher association. Ms. Stern had received several earlier reprimands from the school district regarding her behavior and her use of profanity in class. She was suspended after she criticized a suggestion that PTA membership be made mandatory for teachers.
The jury awarded Ms. Stern the $1 in nominal damages she had sought.
Four years after it spent $125,000 on a computer system to automatically route school buses, the Wake County (N.C.) School District will begin piloting the routing system later this spring. Henry Kirby 3rd, supervisor of regular routes for the district, said officials could not begin the program until the homes of students who lived in rural parts of the county were mapped by the computer. Mr. Kirby said the district also had to reconcile the multiple names given to many of the county's roads and to locate roads in new housing developments.
About 50 students were sent home from Jay High School in Jay, Me., this month for wearing union slogans as tensions rose over a strike at the International Paper Company mill nearby.
A policy adopted last fall prohibits students from taking sides in the dispute while in school, district officials said. The 12-week walkout involves the United Paperworkers International Union and the International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers.
The school policy bars discussion of the strike in hallways, classrooms, and on school grounds, and bans clothing which presents any opinion regarding the company or the unions.
The students were sent home after they refused to remove or cover up T-shirt slogans, a district spokesman said. Another 30 students covered the slogans and remained in school.
A federal grand jury has indicted two former officials of an Arkansas vocational school on mail-fraud charges in connection with alleged schemes to steal from the state through phony billings.
The four-count indictment names as defendants David Bibb, former financial director of the Northwest Vocational Technical School in Springdale, and Jim Taylor, the school's former director. Mr. Bibb had previously been indicted on related charges.
Federal officials indicated that others may also be indicted in connection with the case. According to a state audit report, more than $100,000 in checks were written on school accounts for supplies, equipment, and services the school never received.