Districts News Roundup
A state judge in Connecticut has restricted access to data contained in teachers' job-application files, thus reversing a ruling by the state Freedom of Information Commission.
The decision, handed down late last month by Superior Court Judge Raymond R. Norko, protects teachers' college transcripts, autobiographical essays, salary histories, reasons for leaving previous jobs, and references from public scrutiny.
A local taxpayers' group had sought information from the job-application packets submitted by five teachers hired by the Easton school district. Last spring, the f.o.i. Commission sided with the taxpayers' group, and the Connecticut Education Association appealed on behalf of the teachers.
William J. Dolan, a lawyer for the union, argued that disclosure of all the materials would have a chilling effect on the application process as well as constitute an invasion of privacy.
"If every document is going to be reprinted in the newspapers the next day," Mr. Dolan said, "those who submit this kind of information aren't going to be particularly candid."
Information that will remain in the public arena includes name and address, teacher certification, institutions attended, degrees awarded, and extracurricular activities.
The former director of media services at Winnacunnet (N.H.) High School has been found guilty of plotting with her student-lover to kill her husband, and now faces life in prison without possibility of parole.
A jury of seven women and five men refused to believe the testimony of 23-year-old Pamela Smart that she had not asked William Flynn, the 15-year-old student whom she had seduced early in 1990, to murder her husband, Gregory.
After a widely publicized two-week trial, the jury found Ms. Smart guilty on three counts: accomplice to murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and witness tampering. Following sentencing rules in the state, Judge Douglas Gray sentenced her to life in prison on the first charge. No date has been set fortencing on the other two charges.
Mr. Flynn, along with two friends who took part in the murder, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for their testimony.
Ms. Smart's lawyers plan to appeal.
A 9-year-old Long Island girl crushed by a motorized school gymnasium partition last month has died.
Deanna Moon, a 4th grader at Sunquam Elementary School in Melville, N.Y., died March 22 after lingering nine days in a coma. Deanna's neck was crushed in the accident when she was pinned between a wall and the motorized partition as she tried to walk around the barrier.
A teacher apparently had wedged a piece of wood against the button that operates the partition to keep it moving unattended, police said.
Police have nearly completed their investigation of the incident, and have passed their findings on to the Suffolk County district attorney's office, which is still reviewing the case, Suffolk County police Lieut. John Gierasch said last week.
Superintendent John W. Porter of the Detroit public schools has proposed a $40.5-million, five-year plan to improve teacher training and evaluation while better educating the city's children.
The plan calls for instructional coaches to be assigned to 23 schools and for other programs to be established to improve teacher training.
Noting that the average Detroit teacher received a college degree 20 to 25 years ago, Mr. Porter also has called for mathematics instructors in the 3rd through 12th grades to be tested on weaknesses in subject matter and teaching techniques and provided with mandatory retraining.
The plan, which would be phased in over five years, also calls for elementary-school students to be required to take additional science courses.
The school board must still approve the plan.
The only Roman Catholic high school in the city of Hartford, Conn., will close at the end of the school year, archdiocesan officials have announced.
South Catholic High School, which opened in 1961, was expecting 50 fewer students next year than its current enrollment of 287, officials of the Archdiocese of Hartford said. Enrollment peaked at about 1,100 students in the early 1970's. There was little prospect for increasing enrollment in the next few years because of rumors that the school would close.
Also, the archdiocese had to loan the school $260,000 for the current school year to offset operating deficits. Archdiocesan officials said they could not continue the subsidy because it would cut into their ability to provide tuition assistance to students at Catholic schools throughout the area.
A highly respected Boston principal has returned to work after a five-day suspension for falsely certifying an application for a child to the prestigious Boston Latin School.
Steven C. Leonard was suspended on March 7 for authorizing documents stating that an 11-year-old girl who lives in Brockton was a student at his Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.
The student's mother, Pilar Garcia-Cabrera, was also suspended from her post as an East Zone administrative assistant for falsely claiming that she was a resident of Boston's Hyde Park neighborhood.
Mr. Leonard's five-day suspension was said to have disheartened Joseph McDonough, Boston's interim superintendent, because the principal's work in turning around his beleaguered middle school has been a bright spot in an otherwise troubled school system. Under Mr. Leonard's stewardship, King Middle School was transformed from one of the city's worst to one with a waiting list for admission.
In a statement, Mr. McDonough said Mr. Leonard's "past record, as well as the promise of his future service, merit mitigation of even more serious disciplinary measures."
Both Mr. Leonard and Ms. Garcia-Cabrera will be docked five days' pay.
A committee of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has recommended that a Los Angeles principal be suspended for 10 days in a case involving her alleged harassment of a teacher.
United Teachers of Los Angeles, which asked the state to revoke the credentials of Jacklyn Thompson, accused the principal of retaliating against a teacher who had reported that the school district was improperly planning special-education classes.
After the teacher made her complaints, the school district began investigating her for child abuse and battery and threatened to suspend her. She was cleared of the charges, which were filed by Ms. Thompson.
Ms. Thompson said she will appeal the committee's decision.