District News Briefs

November 21, 1990 4 min read

The parents of a Chicago high-school student are the first to be convicted under a stepped-up anti-truancy program in the district and could go to jail if their son misses any more school.

Anetha and Willie Dorsey were sentenced this month to a year of court supervision and could be jailed for up to 30 days and fined up to $500 under Illinois law if their 15-year-old accumulates up any more unexcused absences from Amundsen High School.

The Dorseys are the first parents convicted under a year-old partnership between schools and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to improve attendance, said Robert Portman, the department’s chief executive officer. Jail time for parents is not the goal but a “last resort,” he said.

The 9th grader, whose first name the district declined to release, missed 80 of the mandatory 180 days last year and about 18 days so far this term, said Pauline Tarvardian, assistant principal for attendance at Amundsen.

Repeated warnings, letters, and offers of assistance and counseling went unheeded by the Dorseys, Ms. Tarvardian said.

Since the anti-truancy program began last year, attendance among the mostly middle-class student body has improved to about 90 percent from last year’s average of 74 percent, Ms. Tarvardian said.

A federal appeals court has ruled that Cincinnati school officials do not have to provide a special, school-based program for a severely handicapped 11-year-old.

The child is legally blind and functions at the level of a 1-month-old as the result of brain damage she incurred at the age of 2. The girl had been receiving five hours a week of home instruction from the school district, but her mother, Roxanne Thomas, had gone to court in an effort to have her daughter placed in a more intensive, school-based program with other severely handicapped pupils. She filed suit in 1984.

The Nov. 6 decision by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned a lower-court decision in favor of Ms. Thomas. The three-judge panel said school officials were fulfilling their obligations under federal special-education law because the child was benefiting from home instruction.

Michael Mooney, a lawyer for Ms. Thomas, said the family had not decided whether to appeal the ruling.

A former high-school football player in Cleveland who was seriously injured during practice in 1985 has sued his high school and the manufacturer and reconditioner of his helmet.

James P. Greene, a former defensive linebacker for the Madison High School football team, filed the lawsuit last month in Lake County Common Pleas Court against the school, Bike Athletic Equipment Company of Knoxville, Tenn., and Medalist Industries Inc. of Elyria, Ohio.

Bike manufactured, and Medalist reconditioned, the football helmet that Mr. Greene’s lawsuit claims was insufficiently padded, resulting in his injuries when he was hit head-on during a practice in 1985.

Mr. Greene, who was 16 at the time, was in a coma for three days and underwent brain surgery to remove a blood clot. He has since suffered other medical problems resulting from the accident, the suit contends. In the suit, Mr. Greene is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

A Texas judge last week rejected a request to make permanent a temporary restraining order forbidding the Lubbock school district from enforcing its dress code.

In his decision, the judge in the 364th district court of Lubbock County cited a 1976 ruling involving the dress code of the Houston schools. That rule held that the state constitution’s prohibition of gender-based discrimination did not apply to hair lengths, said J. Edwin Price, the plaintiffs’ lawyer.

His clients, the parents of two boys with long hair styles, had not decided last week whether to appeal the decision, Mr. Price said.

The same judge last month granted the parents’ request--on sex-discrimination grounds--for a temporary restraining order against the portions of the dress code that bar boys from wearing earrings or hair that falls below the collar.

The school district was to resume enforcing the earring ban last week and the hair-length provision this week, Mr. Price said.

It was unclear last week whether theould comply with the dress code, submit to in-school suspension, or try home schooling.

In a similar case, a judge in Bastrop County, Tex., near Austin this month declined to grant a temporary injunction preventing Mina Elementary School from enforcing its dress code, which forbids the “rat tail” style worn by a 3rd grader, said Charles Beall, the lawyer for the boys’ parents. They will appeal the decision, Beall said.

The Baltimore city school board has approved the establishment of a “micro-society” school, only the second such program in the nation.

The pilot effort will begin next September with one K-8 school selected from applicants across the city. The board hopes to expand the program eventually to middle schools and high schools.

Under the micro-society concept, originated at a magnet school in Lowell, Mass., students operate mock civic and business organizations during class periods. The local chapter of Junior Achievement, an organization that promotes student financial awareness, first proposed such a school for Baltimore last summer. The organization will supply curricular materials for the school and help recruit business partners to co-sponsor the program.

A version of this article appeared in the November 21, 1990 edition of Education Week as District News Briefs