District News Roundup
N.Y.C. Custodians Return to Work After Strike
School custodians in New York City agreed to a new contract one day after they walked off the job and left thousands of students and their teachers without heat for several hours.
The Feb. 7 walkout came after negotiations between the custodians' union and Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls, a private contractor with the district, stalled.
Johnson Controls agreed to end drug-testing requirements and to stop attempting to control workers' assignments, according to a union spokesman.
A Call for Volunteers
In the wake of a fatal stabbing at a Detroit high school, Superintendent David L. Snead has asked more parents to volunteer as security monitors in schools.
Mr. Snead said safety in the 171,000-student district would improve more with greater parent involvement than with additional security guards and metal detectors.
The superintendent pleaded for more volunteers at a Feb. 8 meeting with parents at Denby High School, where a 16-year-old sophomore was stabbed to death Jan. 30 in a second-floor hallway. Two 15-year-old students have been charged with first-degree murder.
Each year, about 70,000 parents volunteer to work in the district in a variety of positions, but the greatest need is for monitors, said Dolores Smith, the president of the City Wide School Community Organization, an umbrella group of local parents' groups. "We don't need to spend more dollars on security," she said. "We need more human bodies and caring people."
A Mississippi high school marching band will not march in the annual New Orleans Mardi Gras parade because of the district's concerns for their safety and the trip's lack of educational value.
The 110 band members from Velma Jackson High School in Camden, Miss., will not march in this year's Mardi Gras parade, as bands from the previous 20 years have done.
Madison County Superintendent Sue Jones said in a statement this month that she could not justify the trip because it wasn't educational.
But another school's band in the 7,000-student district plans to go to Washington in April to take part in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival parade, said Troy Boyd, the band director. Ms. Jones explained that trip, by Madison Central High School's band, was authorized because "Madison was invited." No invitations are needed to march in the Mardi Gras parade.
Dress Code for Teachers?
A Colorado school district has formed a committee to look into a dress code for all district employees, including teachers.
If a dress code is adopted, Colorado Springs district employees would be required to wear business attire to work, said Tracy Cooper, a district spokeswoman. District officials were considering a dress code for their 33,000 students when they thought, "'Well, if we have one for the students, why not for the faculty?"' she said.
The committee will bring its dress-code recommendation to the board May 15.
The New Britain, Conn., school board has censured its superintendent after discovering he secretly taped a telephone conversation with a former high school principal.
Superintendent Paul V. Sequeira taped a conversation during the summer break in an attempt to catch the former administrator criticizing him, said Steve Horowitz, a board member in the 9,000-student district.
The board also voted at a meeting Feb. 5 to censure two other members who were involved in the taping incident. One board member made the call while the other listened. Mr. Sequeira recorded the conversation, Mr. Horowitz said last week.
Mr. Sequeira did not return telephone calls to his office last week.
Suspension Irks Parents
Parents of an Anderson, S.C., middle school student who was suspended for wearing a jacket with a Confederate flag to school intend to file a lawsuit against the school district in federal court.
Thirteen-year-old James Kinley was suspended last month for wearing the jacket, which violates the school's dress code. Wearing symbols of the Confederacy has ignited verbal and physical confrontations at the school in recent years, a spokesman for the Anderson district said.
Board members recently ruled that the principal's decision to suspend Mr. Kinley was an appropriate punishment.
A suit has not yet been filed.