State News Roundup
Gov. Pete Wilson of California has set up a task force to investigate allegations that students who live in Mexico are crossing the border to attend school without paying out-of-district tuition.
The probe was ordered after an aide to Assemblyman Jan Goldsmith filmed six school buses from the Mountain Empire School District picking up children who had walked across the border from Tecate, Mexico, into San Diego County. The buses stopped about 500 feet from the border, according to a spokesman for Mr. Goldsmith, who had received complaints from constituents.
Mr. Goldsmith alleged that up to 350 children from Mexico are enrolled in the district, at an estimated cost of more than $1 million a year.
James J. Bloch, the superintendent of the Mountain Empire district, responded that many students picked up by the buses are legal U.S. residents who cross the border for child care or to visit friends and family. But he also said the district plans to step up its residency-verification efforts.
The task force, chaired by Secretary of Education Maureen DiMarco, will consider an investigation of similar practices statewide, a spokesman for Mr. Wilson said.
School board members in New Jersey must recuse themselves from negotiating and voting on collective-bargaining contracts that cover their spouses or children, under a policy adopted by the state school-ethics commission.
The commission argued that participating in such matters violates a school-ethics law that took effect last year. The measure approved last month prohibits school board members from directly or indirectly benefiting from their official actions.
Minnesota's minority-student population is growing much faster than its supply of minority teachers and school administrators, a state study warns.
A study released late last month by the Office of Strategic and Long-Range Planning says racial and ethnic minorities now account for more than 10 percent of the state's public school enrollment, reflecting a 72 percent growth in Minnesota's minority population during the 1980's.
In contrast, 2 percent of public school teachers, 3 percent of principals, and just two of the state's 311 school superintendents are members of minority groups.
Moreover the gap between white and minority student achievement rates appears in some areas to be growing.
The report recommends that the state act to increase the supply of minority teachers and school administrators and to insure a bias-free environment in schools.
One of the first charter schools to open under a new Colorado state law has gotten off to a rocky start, dismissing its interim dean within three weeks of its opening.
The Academy Charter School in Castle Rock, Colo., was among the first to take advantage of a new state law that allows parents, teachers, and other citizens to request state funds to establish experimental schools free of most state regulations.
The school was proposed by a parents group and approved this summer by the Douglas County School District near Denver.
The school opened on Sept. 29 with a curriculum emphasizing basic skills, mandatory uniforms, and a discipline code, said Ellen Bartlett, an assistant superintendent of the district.
On Oct. 18, the school's governing board dismissed the interim dean, Joan Torres. A reference check found that Ms. Torres did not earn two academic degrees listed on her resume, Ms. Bartlett said.
Ms. Torres could not be reached for comment, but she told The Denver Post that her dismissal stemmed from a dispute with parents who wanted creationism taught at the school. She said a dispute over computer equipment sold to the school by her common-law husband was also a factor. The Castle Rock police department is investigating an embezzlement complaint, but no charges have been filed.