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State Journal: Suspended ambition; What Hertz?

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Suspended Ambition

Will Ruben Perez go from lord of discipline to governor of Colorado?

Mr. Perez is the former assistant principal who drew national attention with his attempted crackdown on school discipline at Horace Mann Middle School in Denver. (See Education Week, March 29, 1995.)

In 1994, while his principal was away, he attempted to suspend 97 habitually disruptive students. The district quashed the plan; Mr. Perez was transferred and later fired. But many teachers and residents rallied to his side.

Mr. Perez recently lost an appeal in his lawsuit seeking to clear his record of reprimands.

The 42-year-old educator said last week that since he is unlikely to win his Denver job back through the courts, he will likely run for governor in 1998, stressing education reform.

"I'm seriously considering it," he said. "People know that I'm serious about discipline and about education in general."

"I don't like to leave any kind of fight," he added. "My next step is to get involved in the political process and try to change some of the laws that are unfair."

Mr. Perez is now an assistant principal at a charter school in Thornton, Colo. Since he arrived last fall, 50 of the school's 500 students have been asked to leave for breaking the rules.

What Hertz?

What do renting a car and offering students health services have in common? In Louisiana, quite a lot.

The Louisiana legislature passed a bill this month that would renew a state tax on certain rental cars--a tax that will generate $2.5 million for school-based health clinics.

The tax bill's author, Rep. Billy Montgomery, had wanted the revenues to go toward tourism. He didn't know what was going on when he started getting calls from the Christian Coalition and other groups complaining about boosting funding for school clinics.

"Folks were asking me what does the Christian Coalition have to do with car rentals?" said Mr. Montgomery, a Democrat. Although conservative lawmakers railed against the clinics when the car-rental bill came up, it passed. Gov. Mike Foster has not acted on the bill.

--Mark Walsh & Lynn Schnaiberg

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