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Published in Print: January 21, 2004, as News in Brief: A National Roundup

News in Brief: A National Roundup

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Boy Fatally Stabbed Outside Dallas School

A 7th grader was fatally stabbed outside his Dallas middle school last week.

The 14-year-old was leaving Edward H. Cary Middle School at 3:55 p.m. on Jan. 13 when an older boy asked him to come over to him and then stabbed him, according to district spokesman Donald J. Claxton.

The victim sought help inside the school and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died, Mr. Claxton said.

He said the boy had no history of getting into trouble and was well known and liked by his peers at the 1,300-student Cary Middle School. Officials do not know what prompted the stabbing.

Police were seeking a suspect described as an older teenage male, Mr. Claxton said.

Dallas Superintendent Mike Moses issued a statement expressing condolences to the victim's family and pledging to provide heightened security at the school, as well as counselors to assist grieving students.

— Catherine Gewertz

Many Violations Discovered In Md. Students' Eligibility

A two- month investigation into unauthorized grade changing in a Howard County, Md., high school has found widespread violations of academic-eligibility requirements for student athletes.

Scrutiny of the athletic program at Oakland Mills High School began in November, after the principal reported that a football player's transcript had been changed to make him eligible for competition.

The 46,000-student suburban district requires that students have a 2.0 average and no failing grades to play sports or take part in other extracurricular activities. The discovery of the grade change forced the varsity football team to forfeit its winning season. It also sparked a wider investigation into student academic records at the school.

District Superintendent John O'Rourke announced at a press conference last week that the inquiry had found that 16 student athletes, including six cheerleaders, were academically ineligible. That discovery forced the school's junior- varsity football, field hockey, volleyball, and boys' cross country teams to forfeit their fall victories.

Mr. O'Rourke also called for an audit of academic-eligibility records for all high schools in the district.

The superintendent has recommended disciplinary actions to the school board, but the district has not released any information on those recommendations.

—John Gehring

N.C. Preschool Pupil Dies After Truck Hits School Bus

A prekindergarten pupil in Robeson County, N.C., was killed Jan. 13 and her mother was critically injured when a tractor-trailer crashed into a school bus as the youngster was boarding it.

Sheila Hernandez, 5, died at the scene.

Several other students on the bus, which was en route to a middle school and an elementary school, received severe injuries when the truck failed to stop and struck the rear of the bus. The hospital would not release their conditions.

The driver told police he was searching for a cellphone that had dropped on the floor of his truck as he drove on Highway 71 in Maxton. The rural, two-lane road is near the state's southeastern border.

Charges are pending, according to the state highway patrol.

—Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Settlement Permits Students To Return to N.Y.C. Schools

A judge of a U.S. District Court in Brooklyn has approved a settlement in a class action brought by students who claimed they were illegally discharged from Franklin K. Lane High School in New York City.

The New York City-based Advocates for Children filed the lawsuit against Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and others last January. It claimed that school officials at Lane High didn't permit Gabriel Ruiz, a 17-year-old English-language learner who had been a 10th grader at the 3,400-student school, to return to school in September 2002.

According to the lawsuit, school officials told Mr. Ruiz he would have to transfer to a General Educational Development program, and they didn't tell him of his legal right to stay in school until age 21. The lawsuit alleged that other students had also been illegally pushed out of the high school.

Because of the litigation, according to Advocates for Children, Chancellor Klein has already told administrators of school programs in which former students at Lane High may be enrolled to inform them of their right to return to a regular high school in New York City. The settlement permits such students to be readmitted to regular high schools in the city up until June 30, 2006.

Advocates for Children has also filed lawsuits in federal court alleging that two other New York City high schools improperly discharged students from those schools. Hearings in those lawsuits, pertaining to Bushwick High School and Martin Luther King High School for Law and Advocacy, were set for Jan. 20.

Paul Rose, a spokesman for the New York Department of Education, said the settlement involving Lane high school shows that Chancellor Klein is willing to provide extra academic services and support for students who may have been improperly discharged from schools.

—Mary Ann Zehr

Skeleton Prank Brings Action Against Teachers in Illinois

Three teachers in an Evanston, Ill., K-8 school have been reprimanded and one transferred to another building after they hung a skeleton in the teachers' lounge to mock the 2-year-old No Child Left Behind Act, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The prank had a different meaning for three other teachers at the school, who noted that the skeleton was wearing a Michael Jordan basketball jersey. They were worried that the scene at King Lab School resembled a lynching, the newspaper reported.

Teacher Vikki Proctor said she was inspired to hang up the skeleton as a protest against the federal law after reading an article questioning the success of Texas testing mandates, which served as a model for a part of the law.

The skeleton featured one sign explaining that tests had taken the life out of it, and another that said, "I am a Texas scholar; this is an oxyMoron."

Two other teachers helped Ms. Proctor move the skeleton from the classroom, where it had reposed for years dressed in the Jordan jersey, the Tribune said. Ms. Proctor, who along with the other two teachers apologized for what she called "a misunderstanding," was ordered to be transferred from the M.L. King Jr. Experimental Lab School to another in the Evanston/Skokie Elementary School District 65.

The local teachers' union is attempting to block the transfer.

Ms. Proctor could not be reached for comment, and the district declined to comment on the incident because it is a personnel matter.

—Bess Keller

Head Start Association Sues Over Survey Seeking Salary Data

The National Head Start Association filed a lawsuit in a federal district court in Washington last week, asking for a temporary restraining order against a salary survey that was distributed to Head Start directors by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The survey is part of an investigation by the Bush administration, requested by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives, after news articles reported that some directors of nonprofit agencies receiving Head Start money earn salaries of more than $200,000. ("Head Start Advocates Use Salary Data to Address Critics," Dec. 3, 2003.)

But the Alexandria-based association is arguing that the survey won't provide a "full and balanced" picture of Head Start salaries.

Bush administration officials and Republicans in Congress, however, have stressed that while administrative expenses are necessary, a majority of the federal money should be spent on services for children.

The investigation originally focused on a handful of programs with large federal grants, and was later expanded.

—Linda Jacobson


Iris Carl, who was considered a national leader in mathematics reform, died on Jan. 2. She was 80.

From 1990 until 1992, Ms. Carl served as the president of the Reston, Va.- based National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. She was the group's first African-American leader, and was instrumental in promoting math standards, the first set of voluntary national standards for a subject taught in K-12 schools.

Ms. Carl also had served as the president of the National Council of the Supervisors of Mathematics and was a past member of the board of directors of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

She died while attending the Hawaii International Conference on Education, an annual meeting of educators from around the world, in Honolulu. The cause of Ms. Carl's death was not known at press time.

—Michelle Galley

Vol. 23, Issue 19, Page 4

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