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End to Racial Disparities Sought in S.C. School System

The U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights has ordered a South Carolina district to alleviate racial discrepancies in its hiring and teaching practices.

The Spartanburg County school board last month resolved to hire more minority teachers and end the practice of tracking students by academic ability.

The 9,700-student district must submit to the OCR in January a plan to achieve racial balance in schools by the 1999-2000 school year, said Leonard McIntyre, the assistant superintendent for instruction.

Sixteen percent of the district's teachers are members of minorities, but a few schools have no minority teachers, he said.

Deadly Dispute

A Florida special-education student was shot and killed late last month on school grounds after a disagreement with a classmate.

An 8th grader has been charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 29 shooting of 13-year-old Joey Summerall, a student at Tavares Middle School in Lake County.

According to police officials, the boy was shot 13 times as he stood in a walkway between classes.

The suspect was in the custody of county juvenile authorities last week.

Lunchtime Victory

A religious club at a San Diego public high school has a right to meet during the lunch period on the same basis as other student groups, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The 2-1 ruling Sept. 28 was a defeat for the San Diego district, which argued that the religious club at University High School could meet before or after school but not during lunch.

The court majority noted that the high school held no classes during the 40-minute lunch period and allowed other noncurricular groups, such as a nature club, to meet during that time. It said districts could prohibit student religious clubs from meeting during lunch by establishing a neutral ban on all noncurriculum-related groups.

Background Checks

About 70 Seattle school district employees have criminal records, according to a recent investigation by the Washington State Patrol.

The records were revealed last month during the district's first routine background checks of 3,700 employees, said Ava Greene Davenport, an administrator for the 45,000-student district.

Among those identified in the inquiry were a sex offender who had been a temporary employee and a worker whose charge for indecent exposure was dismissed, Ms. Davenport said. Several others were victims of mistaken identity, she said.

School officials are looking into the results of the investigation, she said, and plan to meet with each employee whose name made the list.

Fatal Shootings

A 17-year-old Kansas high school student has been charged with two counts of murder in connection with the shooting deaths of a student from a rival school and another man.

Police charged a senior at Shawnee Mission North High School with the fatal shootings of Wilson Montenegro, a sophomore at Olathe North High School, and Jerrell Frazier, a 19-year-old Olathe resident.

Students from the rival schools in suburban Kansas City, Mo., exchanged taunts and threw punches during a Friday-night football game last month. Two groups of students renewed the dispute the following Sunday night. Shots fired during that confrontation killed Mr. Montenegro and Mr. Frazier and wounded four other people.

Spiked Tea

A 10th-grade Alabama student has been charged with assault after allegedly spiking his teacher's tea with marker-board cleanser.

The teacher, Pam Clayton, was released from the hospital last week after suffering minor kidney problems.

The boy denied the charges, but several other students said they watched him pour the toxic solvent into her drink late last month, according to officials from Bradshaw High School in Florence.

Principal Ronnie Owens said he recommended that the school board expel the boy. In the meantime, the student received the maximum possible suspension of 10 days.

Job Offer Refused

Eugene Campbell, the ousted Newark, N.J., superintendent of schools, has declined a tenured position as an elementary school principal in the state-controlled school district.

School board officials announced his retirement from the district late last month.

Mr. Campbell, along with the members of the school board, was removed in July after the state took control of the 48,000-student district.

'Bug' Burn

A California cheerleader suffered severe burns after a school-spirit contest went awry.

The 16-year-old junior was one of 24 girls packed into a Volkswagen Bug as part of a contest late last month at the 2,400-student Buena High School in Ventura, Calif.

The weight of the girls in the back seat caused the metal seat springs to make contact with an uncovered battery terminal, officials said.

The seat's springs became hot and caused first- and second-degree burns on one of the girls. Assistant Principal Jim Morgan said the school would prohibit such contests in the future.

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