News in Brief: A National Roundup
Probation Officers To Be Placed in Several Maryland Schools
Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced last week that Maryland will dispatch juvenile-probation officers to watch over students on probation and to combat violence and disruption in 70 troubled schools.
Under the program, 32 probation officers will install offices in schools with high rates of violence and disruption to monitor the behavior and attendance of students on probation.
The officers will also interview students accused of violence and will work with school and community officials to reduce truancy, drug use, and gang involvement.
The program is based on a state pilot project that cut suspensions by 36 percent last school year.
The Democratic governor also released statistics last week for Maryland schools showing that in the last school year, there were 73 incidents involving guns in schools. Of those, 56 gun incidents occurred at high schools, 13 were at middle schools, and four were at elementary schools.
The figures were collected under the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 for the first time.
Many Fail New Nevada Tests
Although one-third of Nevada's 11th graders may have failed new proficiency exams now required for graduation, state education officials plan to make the test even harder next year.
The state school board this month set this year's passing scores for the new, tougher tests at 61 percent for math and 70 percent for reading.
Preliminary results later released by the education department showed that based on those cutoffs, 33 percent of the juniors failed the math test and about 20 percent failed the reading test.
The students, who first took the exams last month, will have four more chances to pass them as seniors next year.
State board members said the failure rates shouldn't discourage them from maintaining high standards.
In fact, board members said they would consider raising the passing scores to 70 percent in math and 75 percent in reading over the next two years.
Voters Reject Tax Hike
Voters in a New York district that once enjoyed big revenues from the local nuclear-power plant last week rejected a steep tax increase designed to cover at least part of the money lost when the plant closed.
By a ratio of 2-to-1, the electorate of the Shoreham-Wading River district on Long Island voted down a budget that represented a 48 percent hike in school property taxes and defeated two school board candidates who favored the increase.
The increase would have put the 2,300-student district's tax rate at just under 82 cents per $100 of assessed value, up from just over 55 cents this year.
That would still have been less than property owners pay in nearby districts, where the rate is more than $1.
The district has steadily reduced its budget over much of this decade as subsidies from the Shoreham nuclear-plant operation dwindled. In the flush 1970s and 1980s, the district bought computers for every few students and provided extras like weeklong trips.
Charter Revoked in D.C.
School board members in the District of Columbia last week revoked the charter of an Afro-centric charter school with a troubled past.
The move marked the first time a charter school has lost its contract to operate in the nation's capital.
The Marcus Garvey Public Charter School, one of three existing charter schools in the District of Columbia, will continue to operate until classes end June 19, but with close monitoring by the school district, said district spokeswoman Beverly Lofton. Currently, about 75 boys in grades K-12 attend the school.
In 1996, just one year after the school opened its doors, Garvey's then-principal was convicted of assaulting a local newspaper reporter and two police officers.
In light of that incident and persistent questions about the handling of the school finances, the school board considered revoking the charter last year, but decided against it.
At last week's 7-1 vote, the board cited fiscal mismanagement and failure to fully disclose financial dealings as the chief reasons for stripping the charter, Ms. Lofton said. Marcus Garvey officials could not be reached for comment.
Miami Walkout Incites Riot
The Miami-Dade County school district is trying to determine how a peaceful walkout by students protesting their first-year principal turned into a riot that led to seven student arrests.
Windows were broken and a vending machine and trophy case were vandalized at Miami Norland Senior High School after scores of students returned to the school after the May 15 walkout. No one was injured.
District officials defended Principal Carroll Williams.
Henry C. Fraind, a deputy superintendent for the Miami-Dade schools, said the principal was hired to bring discipline and stronger academics to the school.
The district is also studying whether Norland High staff members upset with Mr. Williams, who has overseen the transfer of several employees, contributed to student unrest at the 2,300-student school.
No Honors for Teen Moms
A teenage mother and a mother-to-be who were denied membership in the National Honor Society were not discriminated against, a Kentucky school board's investigation has found.
Board members this month heard the results of an investigation into complaints by Somer Chipman and Chasity Glass that they were the victims of discrimination and were bypassed as members of the Grant County High School's honor society because they had engaged in premarital sex.
Ms. Chipman, who is eight months pregnant, and Ms. Glass, who has a 1-year-old daughter, are both juniors at the 950-student school in Williamstown, Ky.
The district's lawyer, Sue Cassidy, said in presenting her findings that the students were not denied membership on the sole grounds of premarital sex but rather because they did not meet all the membership criteria.
The selection committee for a school's National Honor Society chapter evaluates potential members for scholarship, leadership, service, and character.
Camping Plan Canceled
About 270 6th graders from the Placentia-Yorba Linda, Calif., school district won't be going to camp this year. Following the death of a camper this month, Superintendent James O. Fleming announced that the weeklong trips for students from Sierra Vista and Fairmont elementary schools would be cancelled.
School officials are now reviewing their policy on the 25,000-student district's annual camping trips.
Kevin Kelley, a 6th grader at Woodsboro Elementary School, fell to his death May 7 while hiking at the Arrowhead Ranch Camp in the San Bernardino Mountains, a camping facility that the district has used annually for several years.
The students were scheduled to leave the next day, but buses arrived to take them home that night.
Some parents have said the superintendent's decision is unfair, but students at Sierra Vista and Fairmont have been given the chance to come up with an alternative activity.
Ideas so far have included a talent show, a sleepover at school, and a trip to Sea World.
Boy Killed at Bus Stop
The older of two brothers struck by a pickup truck after getting off their school bus in LaPlata, Md., May 14, has died.
Police said that the bus had not activated its safety warning devices and that the pickup was not speeding. No charges had been filed as of late last week.
The bus, driven by a substitute driver, had missed the boys' regular stop and had used its turn signal to pull off to the shoulder of the road not far from the boys' home to let them off the bus, according to state police.
Derrick Ehrenreich, 11, and his brother, Brandon, 6, had stepped off the bus and attempted to cross the road when they were hit by the truck.
Derrick was flown to a hospital in nearby Washington, where he later died. Brandon was listed in stable condition.
Girls Stranded at Theme Park
A North Carolina music teacher was suspended for four days without pay this month for leaving two of her students stranded at an amusement park, five hours from their school.
Two busloads of students from E.B. Aycock Middle School in Greenville had visited the Paramount Kings Dominion theme park, located 20 miles north of Richmond, Va., for a choral competition.
Students were told to be back at the buses by 8 p.m. The first bus pulled out once all the students were on board. The second bus was missing two sisters, 6th and 7th graders.
Renee Tischler, who was in charge of the bus, waited about 45 minutes for the students, according to Barry Gaskins, a spokesman for the Pitt County, N.C., schools.
Ms. Tischler talked to security guards and tried to reach the girls' parents before she left the students behind, he said.
The girls' parents didn't know that their daughters were still at the amusement park until the bus arrived back at the school without them.
Ms. Tischler, who had already submitted her resignation for an unrelated reason in March, was reassigned to a nonteaching position until she leaves at the end of the school year.
Vol. 17, Issue 37, Page 4