State News Roundup
In a report released last month, the State Commission on Investigation charged that the association's director, Octavius T. Reid Jr., improperly took thousands of dollars from his organization to finance an extravagant lifestyle that included trips to Paris and the Virgin Islands, expensive bottles of wine and champagne at dinner, and the use of a car.
Meanwhile, the report alleged, Mr. Reid so mismanaged the organization's insurance pool that it lost more than $1 million at one point.
"We think the officers of the association weren't minding the store," said Thomas Cannon, executive assistant to the independent panel that conducted the investigation. The report has been forwarded to the state attorney general for investigation of possible criminal wrongdoing.
Mr. Reid has been placed on paid leave from his $92,000-a-year job. Association officials were scheduled to study the case more closely late last week.
The Utah Education Association has hired an accounting firm to audit the accounts controlled by its past president, James Campbell, who resigned last month.
"There are problems with the immediate past president's account," read a statement released by the state teachers' union. "The audit is now in progress. Any differences between u.e.a. and the immediate past president will be submitted to arbitration."
A spokesman for the union refused to comment further.
Mr. Campbell, who resigned April 9 citing health reasons, led the 16,000-member union during a one-day walkout last fall and a threatened strike during the legislative session this year.
Beth Beck, the union's vice president, has succeeded Mr. Campbell and will serve until the term expires July 14. At that time, a newly elected president will take office.
Maryland's superintendent of schools has proposed a far-ranging package of school reforms, but no price tag has been put on its implementation.
At a meeting with the state board on April 25, State Superintendent of Schools Joseph L. Shilling outlined a package that calls for extending the school year by 20 days, requiring all students to remain in school until they graduate from high school or reach the age of 18, offering evening and weekend classes to accommodate working students, doubling the number of computers in Marylandschools, making kindergarten mandatory, and improving the teaching force.
If approved by the legislature, the reforms would result in one of the most comprehensive revisions ever undertaken in Maryland's public-school system, Mr. Shilling said.
The plan's cost has not yet been determined, according to Larry Chamblin, a spokesman for the state department of education. "The superintendent and the board's strategy will be to first set up a plan of what needs to be done and then take up the question of financing," Mr. Chamblin said.
Board members, he added, will begin to examine the proposals in greater detail at their meeting this month.
North Dakota public schools may not charge parents for kindergarten classes, according to an opinion issued by the state's attorney general last month.
In January, following voters' rejection of a tax increase for schools, the Williston school district imposed a $25-a-month kindergarten fee. In his opinion to the state department of public instruction, Nicholas Spaeth ruled that the fee is unconstitutional.
As a result, the district will stop collecting the fee and will return all the money collected. Officials estimate the loss at about $37,000 this year and $50,000 next year.
Mr. Spaeth also ruled that districts may not charge a fee for credits beyond the 17 required for high-school graduation or institute a charge for a course that must be retaken by a student who failed it the first time.