State News Roundup
Commissioner of Education Thomas C. Boysen of Kentucky has brought charges against four local school officials and is seeking their ouster under governance mandates contained in the state's 1990 reform law.
The state this month announced the citations separately targeting Ronald L. Hager, the Floyd County school superintendent, and three members of local school boards around the state. The state school board will hold a preliminary hearing in the cases on April 10.
The state has charged Mr. Hager with filing false financial reports, allowing an illegal bingo game at the district high school, failing to follow state bidding requirements, failing to act to reduce one school's $18,000 deficit, and failing to deposit more than $1 million in building funds in an interest-bearing bank account. Over three years, state officials said the bank error cost the district about $250,000.
The state also is attempting to oust Brown L. Adkins, an Elliott County board member whose medical license was suspended following a string of convictions on criminal weapons and drug- and alcohol-abuse charges; Coeburn Phillips, a Letcher County board member accused of using intermediaries to sell coal to the school district in violation of conflict-of-interest rules; and Larry Rogers, a Hart County board member charged with attacking a teacher during a basketball game.
As a result of earlier cases initiated by Mr. Boysen, two school superintendents and a school-board member resigned in the wake of charges and three other local board members were removed following a formal hearing earlier this year.
Department of Education has discontinued the state's school-evaluation system and chosen to begin assisting school districts in which students show low academic-achievement rates.
Under the plan, the state will offer help to districts in which at least 75 percent of high-school freshmen have failed one or more proficiency tests and have shown little progress in raising achievement.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Ted Sanders ordered the change in an effort to shift administrators' focus from regulatory standards to student outcomes. State officials have already identified 48 school districts that will receive state assistance. Such assistance may include instructional advice in teaching reading, writing, mathematics, and citizenship. Other districts may also apply for state help.
The assistance program replaces regular compliance audits of districts based on such criteria as library collections, textbook use, and district policies. Under the new program, assistance from the state will be provided only if it is requested by the identified districts.
Mr. Sanders, who called the announcement "a turning point'' for Ohio schools, will establish a procedure for parents and others to report violations of school standards that previously were policed by state officials.
In addition, the state board recently called for the development of performance-based standards for the state's schools, further underscoring the efforts to move beyond judging schools based on such inputs as course offerings, graduation credits, and school calendars.
The Missouri Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that Gov. John Ashcroft can withhold nearly $35 million from state schools this year to cover the cost of desegregating the Kansas City public schools.
The state high court reversed a lower-court decision in January that the Governor acted illegally in withholding $40.5 million in public-school funds in June 1991 and $34.5 million in August. The first cut came to offset a revenue shortfall, the second to comply with a federal court order requiring the state to pay for the Kansas City plan.
The supreme court held that schools under court-ordered desegregation plans are "free public schools'' under the state constitution, and that any funding going to them--either through the funding formula or court order--counts toward the mandate that schools receive 25 percent of the state budget each year.
The suit was brought by the Missouri State Teachers Association and the Missouri National Education Association.
"The Supreme Court has delivered a devastating financial blow to the
schools and children of Missouri,'' Kent King, the executive director
of the M.S.T.A.Ÿ, said, adding that he was "very disappointed by