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Denver Wins Legal Skirmish With Local Teachers' Union

The Colorado Court of Appeals has upheld the position of the Denver school district in a longstanding battle with the local teachers' union over salary negotiations.

The district had the right to renegotiate a multiyear contract with teachers, the court ruled in a 3-0 decision last month.

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association had sued the district in 1993 for breach of contract after the district failed to give teachers an annual 3.5 percent raise stipulated in a three-year contract. Officials of the 64,000-student district said they had the right to reopen negotiations under a multiyear contract, but the union contended that the district was bound by the original terms of the contract.

The union might appeal the decision to the state supreme court, a dcta spokeswoman said last week.

Accusations of 'Union Busting'

A Houston teachers' union has sued the city's school district for what the teachers claim are "union busting" activities.

The Houston Federation of Teachers accused the Houston Independent School District of unlawfully opening teachers' mail, delaying delivery of union mail, transferring vocal union members among schools, improperly changing grievance procedures, and encouraging new teachers to join a different union.

The lawsuit, filed in state court last month, seeks unspecified monetary damages and an injunction directing the 207,000-student district to cease illegal actions.

District spokeswoman Sandy Rivera would not comment specifically on the lawsuit, but said that the schools welcomed opportunities to work with employee organizations on their concerns.

Coffee Maker Blamed for Fire: A Minnesota jury has ordered the manufacturer of an electric coffee maker to pay $6.3 million in damages to a school district whose high school was nearly destroyed by a fire traced to a faulty coffee machine.

The Bunn-O-Matic Corporation must pay the 425-student Newfolden district for losses due to the 1991 fire, which ruined about 80 percent of Marshall County High School, said Douglas Archibald, the district's lawyer. The district spent about $5.2 million on reconstruction after the blaze.

The manufacturer disputed the district's claim that the coffee maker started the fire. The jury, however, sided with inspectors who determined that the machine had ignited.

Tucson Walkout Averted

Schools in Tucson, Ariz., avoided a one-day teacher walkout last week after teachers and the school board reached a tentative agreement on disputed contract issues.

The agreement would retain the district's proposed 1.5 percent salary increase for the current school year and restore some non-economic benefits for teachers, such as bargaining rights for certain part-time employees.

The agreement has not yet been approved by the union or the school board.

Liquor-Store Shutdown

A two-year campaign by a Salt Lake City elementary school has persuaded Utah officials to seek a new site for a state-owned liquor store.

The state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission yielded last month to concerns by students, parents, teachers, and administrators at Jackson Elementary School that the nearby store was a disruptive influence.

Customers of the store "ended up drunk and passed out on the school lawn," said Principal Marilyn Phillips.

Store operators had countered that the store was more than the legally required 600 feet from the school.

Assault Charge Against Student

A Boston high school student has been charged and arraigned as an adult after allegedly hitting a 78-year-old substitute teacher in the face.

Police last month charged the 17-year-old senior at Brighton High School with assault and battery on a public servant, a misdemeanor.

The substitute, Louis Deraney, who, at 4 feet, 6 inches, is 11 inches shorter than his alleged assailant, told police that he was hit after asking the student to leave the classroom. Mr. Deraney received several stitches near his mouth.

The student has been suspended from school indefinitely and faces possible expulsion, a district spokesman said. He faces a minimum of 90 days in jail, according to police officials. No trial date has been set.

Test Tampering Charged

The Bridgeport, Conn., school board has fired a teacher for allegedly tampering with students' answer forms on a statewide test.

Carolyn Hanes, an 8th-grade teacher at Hooker School, is the first teacher in the state to be dismissed for suspected cheating on the Connecticut Mastery Test, said Richard Huydic, the director of planning and development for the 22,000-student district.

The board voted to fire Ms. Hanes last month after one of her students pointed out that his answer sheet had been completed even though he did not finish the test, Mr. Huydic said.

Ms. Hanes, a 25-year teaching veteran, has reportedly denied tampering with the test forms. She said she had left the sheets unguarded in her classroom and did not know who had filled in the tests.

Curbing Mr. Carrot

Two Alabama elementary schools have refused to allow the mascot of a national animal-rights organization to visit the school.

School officials at Mountain Brook Elementary School and Birmingham's Central Park Elementary School turned down visits last month by Chris P. Carrot, the 7-foot mascot for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA, known for its radical protests against hunting and the fur business, opposes killing animals for food or clothing and promotes a vegetarian diet.

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