Districts News Roundup
A federal judge has upheld a Winchester, Colo., principal's decision to require a 5th-grade teacher to remove religious-oriented books from a classroom library and a Bible from his desk.
Kenneth Roberts of the Berkeley Gardens Elementary School had argued that the principal's action violated his First Amendment rights. The books were only part of a library available to students during a daily silent-reading period, he insisted, and were not used for religious purposes. Mr. Roberts often read the Bible to himself during that period.
But Chief Judge Sherman G. Finesilver of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado cited the books' potential effects on "impressionable" youths in denying the teacher's claim.
"In the instant case," he wrote, "we must balance Roberts' right to free speech against his students' right to be free of religious influence or indoctrination in the classroom."
"We find that the balance lies in the students' favor," Judge Finesilver continued. "Notwithstanding Roberts' arguments to the contrary, 5th-grade students are vulnerable to the examples set by their teachers."
A spokesman for Concerned Women for America, a Washington-based group that represented Mr. Roberts, said last week that it has filed an appeal.
Appeals Panel Rules Against Pre-Game Public Prayers
Even when given by lay persons, religious invocations before high-school football games are unconstitutional, a three-judge panel of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has ruled.
Doug Jager, a freshman member of a school band, in 1985 challenged the Douglas County, Ga., school system's policy of opening football games with a public prayer.
Mr. Jager, who calls himself an agnostic, was lectured by the band director about Christianity after he complained to school officials. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, he and his father then sued the school system.
A federal court in 1987 banned prayers led by members of the clergy, but allowed those led by others.
But the appeals panel rejected those prayers as well, arguing that the district policy was "unconstitutional because it has a religious purpose and a primary effect of advancing religion." The court said the district wrongly rejected the alternative of a secular pregame speech.
A Mobile, Ala., high-school cheerleader who was partially paralyzed by a fall on a concrete floor during practice will get a $2.1-million insurance settlement.
Angie McAll, now an 18-year-old college freshman, in 1987 was attempting a back flip onto the shoulders of another cheerleader. Her back was broken and her spinal cord injured, leaving her a paraplegic, according to her attorney, Robert Cunningham.
The school board allowed dangerous cheerleading moves without mats or spotters, Ms. McAll charged in a lawsuit.
The school board's insurance company will pay $100,000, while insurance companies for the teacher supervising the cheerleaders and the former principal at Murphy High School will pay $1 million each.
Kindergartners in suburban Minneapolis would attend classes in space donated by the developer of a massive new business center, under a proposal by the Wayzata school district.
School officials have called for housing an "integrated program" of preschool, kindergarten, and parenting classes in a 285-acre development that is expected to employ as many as 20,000 people.
James W. Brandl, community-education- service director for the district, said he suggested the concept to Superintendent David Landswerk two years ago, after reading about a similar program in Miami.
The Trammell Crow Company, developers of the new Carlson Center, has not yet agreed to the proposal. If it does, Mr. Brandl said, 100 students could attend school in the development within two years. "It probably won't serve all the needs of our district, but it's a beginning,'' he said.
In Minneapolis, meanwhile, Superintendent Robert J. Ferrera has asked 600 companies if they would be interested in making space available for "satellite" classrooms for grades K-3.
School fundraising projects promote excessive competition among students and turn over too much of the profits to private companies, the Wake County, N.C., Board of Education has decided.
The board last month agreed to work with local parent-teacher groups to develop new ways of raising money.
Wake County schools raise an average of $3.8 million a year through volunteer efforts. But fundraising firms receive an estimated 60 percent of that money in return for providing the cookies, candy bars, and other products sold by students.
Four North Carolina bakery companies convicted of price fixing have agreed to pay more than $1 million in damages to 36 school districts.
The pre-trial civil settlement this month followed the conviction of the four companies on federal antitrust charges last year, according to a spokesman for the state attorney general.
In the civil case, which was filed by the state, the penalties were set at one and a half times the districts' actual losses, the spokesman said.
The companies involved were: American Bakeries Co., formerly of Rocky Mount; Fox's Holsum Baker Inc., of Wilmington; Franklin Baking Co. Inc., of Goldsboro; and a Franklin subsidiary, Dainty Maid Bakery Inc., of Kinston.
A Boca Raton, Fla., elementary school located near a high-tension power line has opened, after a circuit court judge rejected arguments by parents that the location was unsafe.
A parent group had maintained that the power line, located 230 feet from Sandpiper Shores Elementary School, was emitting excessive levels of electromagnetic radiation, which some experts fear may be associated with long-term health problems. School officials said that their own testing found normal readings.
A Point Pleasant, W.Va., high-school teacher who defied a district directive against wearing jeans and T-shirts to school was fired last month.
Following his dismissal by the Mason County School Board, Bill Webb appealed to the West Virginia Education and State Grievance Board. In upholding the decision to fire the teacher, the grievance board denied Mr. Webb's claim that school superintendent Charles Chambers had no authority to impose a dress code on teachers and that to do so was a violation of his contract.