State News Roundup
A federal class-action filed in Pennsylvania last week charges that school officials in that state are failing to provide an appropriate education for dozens of disabled students who cannot be served in traditional, school-district special-education programs.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, is being brought on behalf of three disabled or emotionally disturbed children and their mothers.
It alleges that pupils across the state often must wait months while local school districts find appropriate private-school placements for them. In the interim, these students may receive as little as an hour a week of home-based instruction or remain in placements that school officials have already deemed inappropriate for them, the suit charges.
Moreover, said Leonard Reiser, the lawyer for the students, some children are being placed in residential facilities far from their homes when, with the proper support, they could remain in the community.
"Basically," he said, "the system just isn't working at the moment."
The Georgia Board of Education has approved a requirement that schools across the state introduce 35 "core values" throughout the curriculum at all grade levels.
The state board this month approved a measure calling for the teaching of values, but it will allow local districts the leeway to decide how to restructure lesson plans to highlight such values as freedom of conscience, frugality, tolerance, and moderation.
As mandated by the board, the new rule not only requires schools to incorporate these values into teaching, but also demands that students be given the chance to put what they have learned into practice.
The core values were approved after a series of seven public hearings around the state. During the hearings, some fundamentalist Christians questioned whether, depending on how they were taught, lessons in "tolerance" and "moderation"--two of the values on the final list--would undermine their religious beliefs.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that a woman who lost her job for extensive absenteeism when she stayed home to care for a sick infant is entitled to unemployment benefits.
The court held, on a 2-to-1 vote, that Diane McCourtney's actions in caring for her child did not constitute misconduct under the law.
Ms. McCourtney was fired from her job at a computer company in Minnetonka, despite a good record as an employee, because she frequently missed work to care for her son, who had a series of illnesses, including pneumonia, influenza, and pinkeye.
Ms. McCourtney said that she was unable to find affordable day care for the child, and therefore had to miss work.
She did not protest the firing, but did file suit when the state's unemployment department said she was ineligible for benefits because she had put her family's interests ahead of her employer's interests. Such "misconduct," the state held, made her ineligible for benefits.
The appeals court ruled that Ms. McCourtney had made "substantial efforts" to find day care for her child, and that her absences were "due to circumstances beyond her control."
The court held that the company was responsible for $5,486 in benefits.