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L.A. Set To Overhaul Special-Education System

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The Los Angeles school district is poised to revamp much of its special-education system to settle a 1993 lawsuit.

The school board was expected to grant initial approval this week to a consent decree that would rework methods of identifying students in need of special education, improve training of general- and special-education teachers, and ensure that children with disabilities are placed and served appropriately, a spokesman said.

The agreement comes in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Murphy Resigns

The superintendent of North Carolina's Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, John A. Murphy, has announced that he will leave his post this week.

Mr. Murphy, who has not announced his future plans, has reportedly said he will leave both Charlotte and public education.

The 86,000-student district's chief, a nationally known education leader, made news earlier this fall with on-again, off-again negotiations for the top position at the Kansas City schools. (See Education Week, Sept. 27, 1995.)

Push for Standards

Boston Superintendent Thomas W. Payzant has launched an all-out effort to implement clear academic standards throughout the district's schools.

Mr. Payzant said last month that the district lacks clear expectations for its 62,000 students. He pledged to have measurable academic standards in every school and to use new forms of assessment, such as portfolios, to gauge students' progress.

Plans for Union Merger

The two teachers' unions in Wichita, Kan., have announced plans to take a first step toward merging.

The National Education Association's Wichita branch and the American Federation of Teachers' affiliate there said they will ACT as a joint negotiating team in talks with the district beginning Feb. 1.

The NEA-Wichita and the Wichita Federation of Teachers represent roughly two-thirds of the district's 3,400 teachers.

Fees Sought in Desegregation Case: The lawyer who has represented the parents of black children in the Pulaski County, Ark., school-desegregation case since 1990 is seeking $805,000 in legal fees from the districts involved in the case.

The parents and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund received $3.1 million for legal fees as part of a 1989 settlement.

But the lawyer now handling the case, John Walker, said he and his colleagues have been monitoring the districts' compliance with the desegregation plan, and asked a U.S. District Court judge late last month to be paid for the work.

Timeout Taken Too Far

A Minnesota program serving students with severe emotional and behavioral disorders relied too heavily on "timeout'' rooms to control students' behavior, according to the state Department of Children, Families, and Learning.

Some students in the Morton school district's program were kept isolated in such rooms so long that they were not receiving a "free, appropriate public education'' as required by federal special-education law, a department report says. The program, which no longer exists, served 12 to 18 elementary and secondary students, according to the report released this month.

Slaying Outside `Safe' School

A student has been shot to death in front of a New York City school that officials said had earned a reputation as "one of the safest schools in the city.''

Quentin Gamble, a senior at Thomas A. Edison Vocational and Technical High School in Queens, was fatally shot Nov. 28 after a confrontation with at least two other young men outside the school. Police said last week that no arrests had been made.

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