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Providence, R.I., May Ban Smoking Ads Near Schools

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The city council in Providence, R.I., is considering a ban on smoking advertisements on billboards within 500 feet of public schools, churches, community centers, and other places where children play.

Sponsors of the proposal argue that tobacco advertisers' access to young people should be curbed. "The Marlboro macho man and Joe Camel make kids think it's cool to smoke," said Patricia Nolan, the council member who proposed the ban. Joe Camel, the cartoon character used to advertise Camel cigarettes, has angered many health groups, which argue that the character is designed to appeal to young people.

Tobacco-industry officials have repeatedly denied such claims and have challenged attempts to limit their advertising in court.

The Providence council expects to vote on the proposal this month.

Expulsion Upheld

A Wisconsin appeals court has upheld the expulsion of a Madison student who brought a BB gun to school in 1992.

The state schools superintendent had reversed the expulsion decision, but the 4th District Court of Appeals said last month the state chief lacked the authority to do so.

The 7th grader was suspended from Van Hise Middle School in 1992 after bringing an unloaded BB gun to school.

District officials expelled the student after the 15-day suspension. The boy's parents appealed that decision to the state superintendent, and the Madison district filed a lawsuit when the expulsion was reversed.

Racial Incidents Investigated

Several black students at a suburban Detroit high school found racial slurs scrawled on their lockers and received threatening notes when they returned from winter break.

Authorities said four notes were found in student lockers at North Farmington High School in Farmington Hills. One of the notes used the word "kill."

Administrators at the school said last week that they were working with local police to investigate the incidents and that a suspect had been identified, according to Don Cowan, the executive director of instruction and student services for the Farmington public schools. Officials weren't sure of the motive, he said.

Background Checks

Forty-eight Memphis school employees have been fired or forced to resign after a review by city officials found that 75 employees, including six teachers, had been convicted of felonies.

The review followed an investigative report by a local newspaper last summer. Most of the employees with criminal records were nonteaching staff members, and the convictions were for drug and driving-while-intoxicated convictions.

Personnel action was taken on a case-by-case basis, said Ricks Mason, the director of personnel for the 110,000-student system. "Fortunately, there were no child molesters or rapists," he said.

Confusing Boundaries

School board members in rural Rugby, N.D., recently discovered that one member had been elected twice to represent a precinct she did not live in.

Officials realized last month that board member Florine Seil was representing the wrong precinct. Long-ago redistricting had placed Ms. Seil in Precinct 3, even though she had been mistakenly representing Precinct 1 since 1992.

Ms. Seil resigned from the board after the revelation. She reportedly has not decided whether she will run for an open Precinct 3 seat in June.

Performance-Based Ratings

The Baltimore school board has approved a plan to rate teachers based on how well their students are performing.

Under the system approved this month by the board, teachers whose students do not improve on tests or other assignments in one year will be required to undergo training in the district's professional-development department. If students' scores do not climb by the third year, the teachers will be dismissed.

The 110,000-student district was facing a Jan. 15 deadline set by the state legislature to toughen teacher evaluations or face the loss of up to $6 million in state aid.

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