District News Roundup
The firing of six top administrators has sparked protests by staff members, parents, and students at the private Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pa.
On Sept. 7, 500 students, houseparents, teachers, and others met off campus and protested the staff changes, said Christine Miller, the vice president for communications and enrollment management at the tuition-free residential school.
The following morning, 250 to 300 students marched across campus and had a meeting with Rod J. Pera, the school's acting president, who has also held talks with the whole student body, the faculty, and houseparents.
Also last week, the school's board of managers was set to meet with staff, student, and parent representatives.
The firings, which included the removal of the residential dean and the director of admissions, have been in the works for some time and school officials took this opportunity to allow the school's incoming president "to form his own team,'' according to Ms. Miller.
William L. Lepley, Iowa's school chief since 1987, is set to step into the top job later this month.
The school, created by the chocolate maker Milton Hershey in 1909 to serve disadvantaged children, is one of the country's wealthiest, with an endowment of about $2.9 billion.
Students at a Massachusetts high school have filed a lawsuit against the school's administrators, parent-teacher organization, and an AIDS-awareness educator who they say humiliated them during a performance last year.
The three students at Chelmsford (Mass.) High School allege in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Boston that Suzi Landolphi, a comedian who brings her "Hot, Sexy, and Safer'' presentation to 175 college campuses a year, sexually harassed them by using explicit language and humor during an assembly last April.
During her presentations, Ms. Landolphi has one student pull a condom over the head of another, asks a student to make an "orgasm face,'' and speaks frankly about different kinds of sexual behavior.
Superintendent Richard H. Moser of the Chelmsford schools said that although some administrators expressed concern over the tone of the presentation, an "overwhelming number'' of students seemed to respond favorably to it, and that its content was consistent with the school's approach to AIDS education.
None of the parties last week would comment on the suit, which reportedly asks for $3.5 million in damages.
A Kentucky state judge has ordered the Jefferson County government to stop providing a transportation subsidy to private religious schools in the area.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Geoffrey Morris last month said the subsidy, which totaled $480,550 last school year, violates state law by providing a direct benefit to religious schools.
The share of the subsidy that has gone to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville has made up about one-third of the budget for busing Catholic elementary school students in the county, according to a suit filed by the Jefferson County Teachers Association.
The association challenged the subsidy last year after the Jefferson Fiscal Court, the county governing body, eliminated a transportation subsidy for public schools but left the private schools' funding intact.
In a similar case in Alaska, a state judge there last month issued a temporary order allowing the Fairbanks school district to continue transporting private school pupils until at least Oct. 1.
State officials did not oppose the temporary order, but they have stated that bus routes in the Fairbanks district dedicated to two Catholic schools violate the state constitution's ban on public spending for private education.
Commissioner of Education Gerald Covey promised to end an annual $307,000 reimbursement to the Fairbanks district for the private school routes, and he sent a warning to other districts in the state.
Parents of Catholic school students in Fairbanks have sued over the issue.
A Maryland circuit-court jury last week found a former high school teacher guilty of sexually abusing three of his female students with whom he admitted having sexual relations.
The jury convicted Ronald Price, who taught for 22 years at Northeast High School in Pasadena, Md., on seven sex charges. Mr. Price admitted to police, on national television programs, and in the courtroom that he had been sexually involved with students over an 11-year period.
The former teacher testified that he did not know the state's child-abuse law prohibited teachers from becoming involved with students. He also charged that school officials knew of his relationships and did nothing.
Superintendent C. Berry Carter of the Anne Arundel County Schools has been suspended with pay pending an investigation of the charges by the school board.
Mr. Price reportedly has a contract with a Hollywood producer to make his life story into a television movie. Last month, a state judge rejected a bid by the state attorney general to bar the former teacher from profiting from such an arrangement, saying that the state law invoked in the effort "is unconstitutional and unenforceable.''
Mr. Price faces up to 76 years in prison. His lawyer said he would appeal the verdict.
The acting superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District has notified middle and high school officials to use metal detectors and search lockers in the wake of a fatal shooting this month in a city high school.
A 16-year-old student allegedly shot and killed DeMarkous McLemore, 15, Sept. 2 in a crowded hallway at Franklin D. Roosevelt High School.
The killing was reportedly sparked by an argument over an electronic beeper.
The 16-year-old turned himself in to authorities and has been booked on juvenile murder charges, said Rodney Davis, a spokesman for the Dallas schools.
The high school was equipped with two doorway-style metal detectors that were not in use that day, Mr. Davis said.
All 51 middle and high schools have handheld detectors, and an additional 33 walk-through detectors are shared among schools.
The detectors are used "periodically,'' Mr. Davis said, when violence has occurred or officials have reason to suspect an incident may take place.
The student's death is the first inside a Dallas school this year. One student was killed in school last year.
In a report on its management of the Chelsea, Mass., public schools, Boston University says it has made "significant progress'' in early-childhood education, curriculum reform, and completion of a plan to build new schools.
Test scores also are beginning to show modest improvements, says the university, which has managed the Chelsea schools under contract since 1989. Both 4th- and 8th grade students have improved in all subjects on a state tests, and the percentage of students taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test has nearly doubled.
The annual dropout rate in Chelsea has fallen from 20 percent to 8 percent, the university says in its report to the state legislature, and the proportion of Chelsea High School graduates who go on to postsecondary education has increased from 52.6 percent to 66.7 percent.