District News Roundup
The state education commissioner in Massachusetts has ordered school officials in the town of Avon to take back a 15-year-old disabled boy whom they had sought to bar from classes.
Randy Cohen of Brockton, Mass., has been attending the Avon Middle-High School since 1991 under the state's school-choice program, which permits students to attend schools outside their hometowns. Much of that time, however, Mr. Cohen had been embroiled in a dispute with school officials over his special-education program.
School officials decided not to re-enroll him this year after the state education department lifted an order requiring them to keep the 9th grader in school.
School officials declined to comment on the situation last week. But, in letters to Mr. Cohen's mother, they had complained that he had been absent too often from classes. At one point last year in the ongoing dispute, they also said the boy could not enter the 8th grade, which he had to repeat, because there was no space available there for a nonresident student.
The matter is now before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, which will decide whether school officials discriminated against the boy because of his disability.
In the meantime, Commissioner of Education Robert V. Antonucci told school officials that the state's school-choice program requires that once a student is admitted to his chosen school, he must be allowed to remain there regardless of the school's capacity.
A federal magistrate has rejected the request of the parents of hearing-impaired students in Hastings, Neb., that the school district be ordered to use the sign-language version they prefer in educating their children.
U.S. Magistrate Judge David Piester ruled this month that the Hastings public schools did not violate the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Nebraska Special Education Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act in using a modified version of the Signing Exact English system.
The parents, Daniel and Janet Petersen and Kevin and Michelle Janssen, alleged that the district violated the rights of their children under these laws by failing to provide SEE II, a version that provides a word-by-word translation from spoken English.
The district says the version it now uses transliterates some 85 percent of English words and includes modifications required by the school setting.
Randal Brown, a lawyer for the Nebraska Advocacy Services who represented the parents, said the decision was frustrating. But he noted that the district has made a number of changes in the system in response to the parents' concerns.
The parents are considering an appeal.
A former teacher at a private Waltham, Mass., boarding and day school has filed a state job-discrimination complaint against the school because officials refused to let her live in a campus dormitory with her lesbian companion.
Christine Huff, who had been assistant dean of students, head houseparent, and coach at the Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School, filed the complaint after she was not offered a contract for this year. Living on campus is a requirement of her job.
"I lost my job because I was forced to choose between the career I love and the woman I love,'' Ms. Huff said in a statement.
Most faculty members live on campus, and the school allows married, but not unmarried, couples to live in the dorms together, said Headmaster James R. Clements.
Ms. Huff and her companion, Karen Keough--who are living in housing owned by nearby Milton Academy, where Ms. Keough is a teacher--had a "commitment'' ceremony this summer, but Massachusetts does not recognize same-sex marriages.
The school's policy is consistent with state law, Mr. Clements said.
Both parties are awaiting action by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, which can be appealed in court.
An 18-year-old student was arrested and charged with shooting and seriously wounding a fellow student on the first day of classes in Los Angeles.
The Sept. 7 shooting at Dorsey High School took place as some 2,000 students were registering for classes. A hallway scuffle broke out and a bystander, Glynn Brown, was shot in the chest. Last week, the 15-year-old was listed in stable condition at a local hospital.
Bryant Boyd, 18, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and related charges and was being held in $1 million bail.
The school beefed up its security patrols for several days after the shooting.
Last school year, two students were killed in Los Angeles schools. After those killings, district officials ordered random weapons checks with hand-held metal detectors at all secondary schools. It is not known if any searches were made at Dorsey High School on the first day of school.
A Boston private school that was born in response to the advent of court-ordered busing in the 1974 has closed its upper school for financial reasons.
In a letter to parents, Hyde Park Academy announced only days before the school year opened that it was eliminating grades 7 to 12 in an effort to keep the rest of the school open.
The school cited diminishing enrollment, low parental support, and tardy or absent tuition payments as its reasons for scaling back.
The academy was one of three that figured in a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the government could not be sued for granting tax exemptions to racially segregated private schools.
The academy is attempting to place its upper-level students in other Boston schools.