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Houston Teachers' Union Sues Over Certification

The Houston Federation of Teachers has filed a class action against the Houston Independent School District on behalf of an estimated 250 teacher-interns who say they were fired, demoted, or defrauded by school officials.

The lawsuit, filed late last month in a state district court, centers on the bilingual-education segment of the district's alternative-certification program for teachers and names seven plaintiffs.

In recent months, federal, local, and district officials have been investigating the program. The allegations, reportedly involving school personnel, range from visa fraud to improper destruction of government records. (See Education Week, April 6, 1994.)

The district recruited participants--many of whom came from Latin America--with the assurance that they could earn a Texas teaching certificate if they completed a $3,000 training program, Christopher L. Tritico, the union's lawyer, said.

After finding that many of the interns were not sufficiently qualified, the district either fired or demoted them, Mr. Tritico said.

"The teachers are being punished for H.I.S.D.'s error," he said.

District officials declined to comment, saying that they had not thoroughly reviewed the union's lawsuit.

Hartford Contract Approved

The Hartford City Council has voted to accept a revised version of a contract entrusting the city's public schools to Education Alternatives Inc., a for-profit firm.

The council voted 5 to 3 late last month to accept the revised contract. The school board voted by a similar margin last week to formally accept the agreement, which district and e.a.i. officials had modified in an effort to overcome objections from city council members.

The contract revisions were intended chiefly to subject the company to more financial oversight in running the 26,000-student district. (See Education Week, Oct. 26, 1994.)

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