District News Roundup
In the wake of a $30-million funding dispute with the Mayor, Boston school officials last week sent layoff notices to nearly 800 teachers, although only about 375 of the city's 4,700 teachers will actually be fired, a spokesman for the district said.
Joseph McDonough, the acting schools superintendent, mailed the 795 notices last week because he is unsure which teachers will ultimately be laid off.
U.S. District Judge W. Arthur Garrity is scheduled to announce this week whether he will relinquish supervision of the city's desegregation efforts. If the judge orders the city to maintain its affirmative-action program for teachers, the spokesman said, the district will lay off 375 white teachers.
If Judge Garrity does not order the program continued, he added, about 260 of the 375 teachers fired will be members of minority groups.
Boston teachers are facing potential layoffs because Mayor Raymond L. Flynn appropriated about $30 million less for the schools than the school committee requested.
Although the school committee already ordered $11 million in cuts--mostly in central-administration staff--any further cuts would have to include teacher layoffs, the spokesman said. The committee has said it needs at least $409 million to operate the system, but Mr. Flynn allocated about $389 million in his budget.
The committee had ordered Mr. McDonough to "take no further steps" to reduce the budget. But the city's corporation counsel advised Mr. McDonough last week that he was required to send out the layoff notices.
A rural public-school system in Virginia is violating the First Amendment rights of students by appearing to endorse Bible classes held in a bus parked on school grounds, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union charges in a suit.
In a suit filed in federal district court in Harrisonburg, Va., on behalf of an unnamed 3rd-grade student and the child's mother, the aclu asserts that the Shenandoah County district is violating the establishment clause of the constitution by allowing the Private Weekday Religious Education organization to offer Bible classes in a bus parked outside W.W. Robinson Elementary School.
The suit asks that school officials be ordered to bar the bus from school grounds. A school-board lawyer argued that a 1975 federal-court decision upheld the practice in a nearby district.
The suit also asks that the district bar the religion teachers from entering the schools and prohibit its employees from pressuring children to participate in the Bible classes, as alleged in the suit. The school board's lawyer said district policy already outlaws both practices.
The Kentucky State Board of Education voted this month to end the state's partial takeover of the Floyd and Whitley County school districts.
The state education department took partial control of the districts last year under an "academic bankruptcy" law adopted in 1984.
The board decided to end its intervention in part because of changes in the state's takeover laws included in the 1990 Education Reform Act passed during the recently concluded legislative session.
Also "acting as a direct catalyst to the decision," said Deputy Superintendent of Schools Dan Branham, was a circuit-court ruling in January declaring that the intervention in the Whitley County schools was unlawful.
Pending the outcome of an appeal of that decision, the state had continued control of the district, Mr. Branham said. But with the state board now in the process of developing new standards to evaluate district performance, intervention ceased to be appropriate, he added.
Once the new standards have been developed, Mr. Branham said, the state will "be looking at all the districts, including the Floyd and Whitley County school districts."
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the operators of a private Christian school in Vienna, Va., who had charged that they were harassed and discriminated against by county and municipal officials for their conservative religious beliefs.
U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton dismissed the suit filed by Robert L. Thoburn and Rosemary S. Thoburn and others against officials of Fairfax County and the town of Vienna.
The Thoburns accused officials of using zoning laws to target their Fairfax Christian School, which operated at the Vienna Assembly of God Church. Building inspectors ordered the school out of the church in 1988 because of safety-code violations. School officials ignored the evacuation order, they testified in a civil trial.
Judge Hilton dismissed the jury after three days of testimony and ruled that the Thoburns' conflicts with officials were "of their own making and choosing." There was no evidence that action taken by the officials was related to the Thoburns' religious beliefs, the judge said.
A parochial-school teacher in suburban Hartford, Conn., has been charged under a seldom-used state law with failing to report suspected child abuse.
Diane Pociadlo, a teacher at St. Stanislaus School in Meriden, was arrested this month for failing to report that a student in her care had allegedly been physically abused by the child's parents.
Although other professionals were named in the case, none has been arrested.
Police say they received an anonymous tip in February that the child had been abused, and a local court issued the warrant for Ms. Pociadlo's arrest.
Brother John McGovern, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Hartford, said "it would have been impossible" for Ms. Pociadlo to have known about the abuse, which allegedly occurred during a two-week period in February when the child was absent from school.
Ms. Pociadlo was not placed on leave, and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court on May 22. The Meriden Federation of Teachers has promised to donate funds for her defense.