State News Roundup
The Connecticut Education Association plans to fight a ruling by the state's Freedom of Information Commission that school boards in Easton and Redding must release to a citizens' group portions of the personnel records of five new teachers.
The order is on hold while union officials file their appeal in Superior Court in Hartford.
The Citizens for Responsible Education brought their request to the commission after the school boards agreed only to release the names, addresses, and teaching certificates of the five new teachers, who were hired in 1988.
The group wanted more information to help it determine whether the districts were hiring the best teachers.
Although state law exempts certain personnel records from the state's open-records laws, the commission ordered the boards to release the teachers' grade-point averages, their college and graduate-school transcripts, and their salaries in previous public jobs, as well as their personal essays, letters of reference, and the reasons they left their previous jobs.
The commission ruled that some information--including portions of the essays, family financial status, ancestry and national origin, religious and political party affiliation, and medical conditions unrelated to job per6formance--should remain confidential.
Last year, the cea appealed a similar ruling on the release of teacher-performance evaluations. The appeal went to the state Supreme Court, which remanded the decision back to the commission. (See Education Week, May 10, 1989.)
The West Virginia Board of Education has approved a plan designed to give teachers and other employees more control over their school.
The policy, approved Jan. 12, calls on each elementary school in the state to create a "school team" consisting of that school's principal, its counselor, and teachers selected by their peers. The plan is required by a law passed by the state legislature last year.
The teams will formulate the school's curriculum, according to a board spokesman. They will also have the authority to apply for grants.
The board's policy is effective immediately, the spokesman added.
The Ohio State Board of Education has asked the General Assembly to drop portions of a law that creates a three-tiered diploma system for the state's high-school graduates.
Two years ago, the General Assembly enacted legislation calling for a tiered diploma system and passage of performance tests for graduates beginning in the 1993-94 school year.
Under the law, students who pass only a 9th-grade proficiency examination would receive a "diploma of attendance." Those who also pass a 12th-grade proficiency test would receive a "diploma of commendation." Finally, those who pass both tests, as well as meet any locally set standards, would be awarded a "diploma of distinction."
Instead, the board favors a two-diploma system: the standard diploma for every student who passes the 9th-grade examination, and a diploma of distinction for those who pass an optional regents' examination.
Board members fear that the current system would create havoc with seeking admission to colleges and universities, said Robert L. Moore, the state's assistant superintendent of public instruction.
The Minnesota State Board of Education has voted to stop pressuring schools to eliminate the use of athletic team names and mascots with Indian connotations, and will instead require all school districts to establish policies to end discrimination against Indian students.
The action came earlier this month after the state board's American Indian education committee advised against imposing a total ban on the use of Indian names and symbols.
Some school officials had refused to heed a state-board directive issued last year urging them to change team names and logos that were considered derogatory to Indians or other racial groups.
The new policy will allow schools to retain such names as the "Indians" or "Warriors" so long as they are not used in an offensive manner, a state official said.