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K.C. May Not Cut Academics To Offset Deficit, Judge Rules

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The Kansas City school district may not make cuts in academic programs in order to offset its budget deficit, a federal judge has ruled.

In a one-paragraph order this month, U.S. District Judge Russell G. Clark told school officials that they were barred "from implementing any budget cuts which would cut academic personnel or which directly relate to an academic program." Judge Clark, who oversees the district's desegregation efforts, also ordered the district to present a detailed plan for cutting its budget by May 15.

The judge's action has prompted district officials to inform about 300 employees that the district cannot promise them a job for the 1991-92 school year, said Vicki Cummiskey, a school spokesman.

Most of the 300 staff members receiving notices are central-office administrators, but some are assistant principals, instructional assistants, nurses, and counselors, she said.

The district anticipates a shortfall of $9 million in the 1991-92 school year.

Three school districts in California are the first in the state to receive buses powered by alternative-fuel engines.

A total of 10 of the 66-passenger buses will be delivered to the three districts beginning this month, officials said.

"The focus is on getting the older buses off the road and having ones that operate on cleaner burning fuel with less pollution," said Jerry Martin, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, which certified the buses for use.

Development of the engine, which is powered by compressed natural gas, was made possible by a $700,000-grant from the California Energy Commission.

The Hayward Unified School District will receive three buses at the end of this month, said Joan Novak, transportation and security manager.

"We are delighted to make a replacement to our fleet of old buses," she said.

Max Mattox, transportation director of the Vista Unified School District, said that his district will receive three buses late nextnth, and that the engine is "the next cleanest type of fuel besides electricity."

Bud Dunevant, transportation director of the Los Angeles Unified School District, said the district will receive four buses by the end of June.

Three members of the Wilson County, Tenn., board of education have been ousted by court order because the district has incurred a $2-million deficit.

Allen Barry, Laleta Shipper, and Joe Walker were removed by a jury after a two-week trial. A state grand jury had found the three innocent of any wrongdoing, but had recommended an ouster lawsuit.

Filed by District Attorney Tommy Thompson, the suit charged the three with mismanaging school funds. Among the financial abuses were overstating school-attendance records and mismanagement of insurance and cafeteria funds.

The current superintendent and the other two board members were exempt from the charges because they were not in office while the ouster suit was being filed.

The state charged that the board did not adhere to suggestions made by the state comptroller in yearly and quarterly audit statements during the past few school years.

Mr. Barry and Mr. Walker argue that, because of the district's good financial standing in the 1987-88 school year, no yearly state audits were performed between 1988 and March 1990, when the comptroller audited finances for the 1988-89 school year and discovered the discrepancies.

Although Mr. Barry plans to appeal the decision, Mr. Walker, a 20-year veteran of the school board, said he was not considering a re-election bid. "It's the hurt more than anything else--getting ousted when you don't know anything about the deficit," Mr. Walker said.

Superintendent Richard C. Wallace of Pittsburgh has filed a $40,000 slander suit against a school-board member for allegedly calling his conduct racist and sexist.

The complaint against Valerie McDonald stems from a February board meeting at which Mr. Wallace announced that he planned to advertise outside the district three openings for principals. Ms. McDonald allegedly made slanderous statements while objecting to the decision.

The complaint also charges that Ms. McDonald used the incident to gain notoriety for her election campaign for the Pittsburgh City Council.

Ms. McDonald said she is "disappointed" by the lawsuit.

"Superintendent Wallace only wanted to advertise openings for the two white-majority high schools to outside candidates," Ms. McDonald said. "Not only does the lawsuit attempt to gag me, but it also infers that [Mr. Wallace] is above criticism."

In his complaint, Mr. Wallace denies any sexist or racist intent in seeking candidates outside the district. The suit says that the purpose of advertising outside the district was "an attempt to determine if there were African-Americans and women ... outside the district who were more qualified than those ... within the district."

Daniel Berger, a lawyer for Mr. Wallace, said he is seeking a jury trial that would take place "at least" a year from now.

Two West Concord, Minn., school administrators face criminal charges for allegedly failing to report the sexual abuse of a student by a teacher.

Superintendent Kenneth Doty has been charged with one misdemeanor count of failure to report the maltreatment of a minor, and Raymond Six, principal of West Concord High School, has been charged with three misdemeanor counts.

The charges stem from allegations that the two men failed to report to authorities an improper sexual relationship between a female teacher at the school and a female student. A grand jury first indicted the two last year, but the indictment was dropped on a technicality.

The teacher was sentenced last December on four counts of criminal sexual conduct and is now serving a jail sentence.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $700 fine.

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