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Houston Targets Principals In School-Improvement Policy: Principals in Houston will face dismissal if they fail to turn troubled schools around within three years, according to a new district policy.

The policy, approved by the school board last month, puts teeth in an existing policy that calls for the restaffing of chronically low-performing schools and holds principals specifically accountable for overseeing the schools' improvement.

The principals are expected to identify whatever resources, other assistance, and changes are needed to boost student achievement in their schools. If their schools do not improve in three years, the principals may be asked to resign and their schools may be placed under outside management or restaffed, the new policy says.

Judge Says No to Condom Garb: The Los Angeles schools have the right to prohibit a student from wearing packaged condoms on her clothing, a federal judge has ruled.

Astrianna Johnson, an 8th-grade student, wore multicolored-condom packages pinned to her shirt last fall in what she said was an attempt to educate her fellow students about "safe sex.'' Administrators told her to remove the packages from her shirt.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Astrianna, said the administrators violated her freedom of expression guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

But in his ruling last month, U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. said administrators must be allowed to choose how values should be taught in schools.

Ria Parody, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles schools, said the student's choice of wardrobe was "too disruptive'' to tolerate.

'The Same Magic': Gay students in Los Angeles had the opportunity this year to avoid the jeers some endured at past proms by going to one organized just for them.

More than 100 same-sex couples gathered last month at a posh Los Angeles hotel ballroom festooned with pink and white balloons for the first gay high school prom sponsored by a school district.

There have been similar dances in other districts, such as Boston and Detroit, but the Los Angeles Unified School District is said to be the first to organize and raise money for such an event. No district money was used to pay for the prom.

Students paid $15 each for a formal dinner and an evening of dancing. Ten district officials were chaperones.

"They were walking on cloud nine,'' said Kathy Gill, the director of the district's Gay and Lesbian Education Commission, who organized the event. "They felt the same magic that straight youths have always felt.''

Boy Admits to Shooting Death: A 10-year-old boy in Butte, Mont., who was taunted by classmates because his parents are infected with the virus that causes AIDS has admitted to fatally shooting an 11-year-old classmate on a school playground in April. A youth-court judge last month ordered that the boy, James Osmanson, be held as a delinquent and be given a psychiatric evaluation.

Although James had been teased about his parents throughout the school year, the boy who was killed was not involved in the taunting that led to the shooting, according to police and prosecutors. Brad Newman, a deputy county prosecutor, said that all parties involved wanted to avoid trying the case in court because students likely would have been called as witnesses.

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