September 01, 2004 1 min read

Cleaning Up

Scraping gum off floors is no fun, but it improved retirement for some Texas educators. After nearly every district opted to stop paying into Social Security in favor of a state-run teacher retirement system several years ago, more than 16,000 educators made use of a loophole: They resigned from their own districts, performed one day of janitorial temp work at a district still paying into Social Security, then retired—claiming additional benefits, according to the Dallas Morning News. That loophole was closed this past summer.

Summer Rerun

Imitation may be a form of flattery, but it also violates anti-plagiarism policies. Keith Cook, former chairman of the Orange County School Board in North Carolina, found that out in June after cribbing a graduation address from a 1998 speech by former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala. Cook resigned as chairman after admitting to a Herald-Sun reporter that he had copied the speech from the Internet.

Sorry, Ken

Barbie is a lesbian. At least, it’s OK to wear a T-shirt saying so in New York City schools. After being suspended for refusing to change her shirt while at Middle School 210 in Queens two years ago, Natalie Young, now 15, won a $30,000 settlement from the city this past spring. As part of the agreement, a new dress code allowing clothing with some provocative messages will be implemented, Newsday reports.

Cease Fire

For a while, it appeared that Michigan science teacher and naval reservist Barry Bernhardt was going to get stiffed. After he left for a two-week stint overseas in March, superintendent Jim Gillette tried to explain the complicated salary arrangement. One detail struck a nerve: Bernhardt would give the Kenowa Hills district some of his military salary to pay for a substitute. Public outrage and death threats ensued, but Gillette made clear in later interviews that Bernhardt actually came out ahead, writes the Associated Press.