State News Roundup
The California Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a San Luis Obispo teacher from assuming the school-board seat to which she was elected last November.
The San Luis Coastal Unified School District and the other six board members sued in state court last November to prevent Caroline Botwin, an English teacher, from taking office, arguing that she would face numerous conflicts of interest serving as both a school-board member and a teacher.
A superior court granted the original restraining order, which the supreme court extended indefinitely.
But the Southern California office of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Ms. Botwin, argued that only the state attorney general, not the local school board, can bring such litigation. A superior court judge agreed in December, and dismissed the case.
Also at issue is whether a teacher can serve as a school-board member, said Marketa Sims, one of the aclu lawyers representing the teacher. So far, that question has not been addressed by the courts, she said.
The school district contends that state law prevents Ms. Botwin from serving on the board, but Ms. Sims said the teacher could "sufficiently shield herself" from potential conflicts.
Lawyers for both sides said they expect the high court to decide soon whether to withdraw its order or to set a hearing date in the dispute.
Southeast Asian refugees who taught in their homeland but who fled to the United States without their documentation can now have their academic credentials validated in Massachusetts.
The program, implemented last month at the University of Lowell, is designed to address the state's need for bilingual teachers who can work with growing enrollments of students from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
After interviews with a panel of experts on Southeast Asian education, the refugee teachers can receive credit for coursework in their native land as they begin the state's teacher-certification process.
According to state officials, thus far, about 24 Cambodian applicants have been interviewed through the program, which is co-sponsored by the state office of refugees and immigrants and the state department of education.
At least five Maryland school districts and the state's main purchasing agency have received grand-jury subpoenas as part of a state investigation into possible bid-rigging among asbestos contractors, according to press reports.
The school systems were asked to furnish records on all asbestos-abatement and -removal activities conducted between 1985 and 1988, the reports said.
Jerome W. Klasmeier, deputy director of the department of general services, which includes the purchasing agency, said his agency was subpoenaed to release similar documents.
Michael F. Brockmeyer, chief of the antitrust division of the attorney general's office, would not confirm or deny reports about the investigation.