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Dade County Board Names Interim Chief for Schools

The Dade County, Fla., school board has named the district's chief of staff to serve as the interim superintendent following the recent resignation of Octavio J. Visiedo.

Alan T. Olkes, who rose through the ranks in the Miami-area district after starting as a maintenance worker in 1953, will take over the district effective July 1.

Mr. Olkes is expected to serve at least through the Nov. 5 elections, which will be the first under a new set of rules expanding the seven-member board by two seats and requiring members to be elected from individual districts instead of at large. Board members opted for an interim superintendent to give the new board the chance to select a leader for the 333,000-student district.

Graduation Symbols

Three Muskogee, Okla., high school students have been suspended and denied their diplomas because they wore ethnic symbols at their graduation ceremony.

Danaj Trudell, Garrica Johnson, and Sydney Watts, all seniors at Muskogee High School, were denied their diplomas last month and accused of violating a graduation dress code that allows only items from school-sponsored organizations to be worn. Ms. Trudell, a Dakota Indian, wore an eagle feather in her mortarboard at the ceremony. Ms. Johnson and Ms. Watts, both African-Americans, wore multicolored Kente cloth on their gowns.

Graduating seniors were told of the dress code for the event three times prior to graduation, and each of the students signed a statement saying that she understood the policy and the consequences of not adhering to it, according to officials for the 1,570-student school.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has agreed to represent the students.

Push for Involvement

Parents should devote at least 20 hours a year to work in their child's school, the Montgomery County, Md., superintendent has said.

Although the district cannot legally require parent involvement, Paul J. Vance suggested making parental participation the social norm through "aggressive positive reinforcement," Brian J. Porter, a spokesman for 120,000-student district, said last month.

The district already has an active volunteer corps, but many more parents need to be persuaded to participate, Mr. Porter said.

The superintendent challenged schools at a recent board meeting to craft plans to publicly recognize and reward parent volunteers. The district plans to choose five schools to begin model parent-involvement programs this fall.

But some local principals have said it will be difficult to ask parents to find extra time to spend at school.

Paddling Charge

An Indiana high school principal has been charged with battery and criminal recklessness after a paddling left a student with bruises.

The parents of a 15-year-old boy filed a complaint against Allen Youmans, the principal of Sheridan High School and Middle School. The freshman was paddled in February after fighting with another student. The boy, with his parents' permission, chose three whacks with a paddle over a three-day suspension, the superintendent of the Sheridan schools said.

A hearing has been set for this week by the Hamilton County Court.

Strike Vote Planned

Unless the city's school system offers a contract proposal soon, Philadelphia teachers say they will meet later this month to decide whether to go on strike this fall.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers filed a complaint against the 217,000-student district last month with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. The 20,000-member union charged the district with bad faith bargaining, saying the district hadn't offered a contract proposal since negotiations began in December. The teachers' current, two-year contract expires Aug. 31.

"We are fearful that the leadership at the school district believes we can sit down at the 11th hour and negotiate a contract," said Linda Harris, the coordinator of the union's negotiating team. "But that's not the way it works."

Charles F. Thomson, the district's communications director, said the delay was caused by the departure of its chief negotiator.

"Since the district was required to change its negotiating team we have moved as quickly as we can in drafting a proposal," Mr. Thomson said. "We regret that the union filed its complaint without consulting us first."

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