District News Roundup
Two Los Angeles school-district police officers who witnessed the nationally publicized beating of the motorist Rodney King in March were fired earlier this month, a police-union official said last week.
An internal school-district investigation concluded that the officers, Mark Diamond and Paul James Beauregard, did not follow procedure and report the beating to district officials, said Richard Keith, general manager of the Los Angeles Unified School District Police Officers Association.
But the union disputes the existence of such procedures and called the firings "excessive punishment."
Mr. Diamond, a 17-year veteran of the school force, and Mr. Beauregard, a 5-year veteran, will file an internal appeal, and, if necessary, take their grievance to superior court, Mr. Keith said.
The officers have not been implicated in any criminal wrongdoing connected with the beating, Mr. Keith added.
School-district officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Mr. Keith said the officers were on routine patrol when California Highway Patrol officers asked them to join the pursuit of Mr. King's car, which culminated in the beating witnessed by more than 20 officers from several police agencies.
A civilian witness's videotape of the beating was broadcast nationally.
The Charleston County, S.C., school district has sued the state for allegedly failing to provide enough insurance money to repair schools damaged two years ago by Hurricane Hugo.
School officials said that the hurricane, which occurred in September 1989, caused $28.5 million in damage to the district's 70 schools. But the South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund, which is managed by the state's budget and control board, has paid the district $13.2 million for repairs.
The suit, filed in a state court last month against the budget board, seeks fees for the architects and engineers hired to help repair the schools, as well as money for damaged data-processing equipment, the removal of asbestos-containing tile, and lawyer's fees.
A federal appeals court has ruled that a Catholic school in Pittsburgh did not violate federal civil-rights law when it failed to renew the contract of a divorced Protestant teacher when she remarried in violation of Catholic teaching.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held last month that Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not apply when a parochial school decides to "discharge a Catholic or a non-Catholic teacher who has publicly engaged in conduct regarded by the school as inconsistent with its religious principles."
Furthermore, the court said, applying that title's prohibition against religious discrimination to the school's decision "would raise serious constitutional questions under both the free-exercise and the establishment clauses" of the First Amendment.
The case involved a dispute between Susan Long Little, who had taught for nine years at St. Mary Magdalene School in Pittsburgh and Bishop Donald P. Wuerl of Pittsburgh.
Ms. Little, who did not teach religion and, according to the court record, "performed well as a teacher," married her second husband, a nonpracticing Catholic, in a civil ceremony. Church officials said she was noted in the 1987-88 school year because she failed to go through necessary church procedures that would have allowed her to remarry validly in the eyes of the church.
A white senior at Newton County (Ga.) High School has filed a federal lawsuit charging that school officials improperly named a black student with a lower grade-point average this year's valedictorian.
The Newton County School Board last month named Johnathan Henderson, a black student with a 96.96 grade-point average, valedictorian over C. Thomas Allgood 3rd, a white student whose average was 97.7. The board did so when questions arose about the accreditation of the private academy where Mr. Allgood earned some of his grades.
Pat McKee, a lawyer representing Mr. Allgood, said that the school board did not adhere to its own evaluation policy when it chose Mr. Henderson.
Phil Hartley, a lawyer for the school board, said the board had no policy on choosing a valedictorian, but that a high-school planning guide requires "regional accreditation" in accepting transfer grades. In his junior year, Mr. Allgood transferred from George Walton Academy, which is accredited by a state organization, but not recognized by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the region's leading accrediting organization.
The school has experienced racial tensions over the past few weeks. Mr. Henderson's father had threatened to take legal action before the announcement was finally made, and there were rumors of a black student boycott of graduation. A few weeks ago, 10 students walked out of class during the appearance of a Ku Klux Klan leader outside the school.
As of last week, no date had been set for a hearing.
A black senior at Delaware Hayes High School in Delaware, Ohio, who has been refused admittance to the National Honor Society the past two years has filed a $75,000 lawsuit against school officials saying the system used to admit students to the society discriminated against him.
James G. Banks is the student-body president, has a grade-point average of 3.3, and is involved in several sports, but was denied admission to the group.
The suit, filed on behalf of the student by his father, James H. Banks, alleges that the admission process is unfair and arbitrary so that, according to the senior Mr. Banks, the society "becomes a teachers'-pet organization."
"It's not a racial case per se," the elder Mr. Banks said. "But if a process is [already] unfair to whites, it becomes unfair to blacks because they are usually the last ones being considered."
Mr. Banks asserted that the subjective nature of the system is used to keep out qualified students who may be more provocative or controversial. The suit calls for a fair and equitable procedure to be adopted as approved by the court, and asks for the admission of the plaintiff and any other students who would qualify under the new system.
Donald Dyck, the school superintendent, said that the admission procedure is "quantitative," except for the subjective judgments made by teachers.
A state judge has ruled that the at-large election system for school-board members formerly used in the Del Valle (Tex.) Independent School District discriminated against minorities.
The suit, filed last year, was the first test of the applicability of the state's 1972 Equal Rights Amendment to voting-rights issues.
State District Judge Joe Dibrell Jr. found that the system prevented more than one minority candidate from winning election to the seven-member board, even though nearly half of the district's students are members of minorities.
In November, the board proposed a new system of five single-member districts and two at-large seats, which the plaintiffs again challenged in court. The U.S. Justice Department is reviewing the new system.
Judge Dibrell also ordered the school system to pay the plaintiffs, who were represented by the Texas Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, more than $350,000 in fees for lawyers and expert witnesses.