District News Roundup

January 11, 1984 7 min read

Kentucky District

Switches Posters

After Suit Threat

The board of education of a Kentucky school district, threatened with a lawsuit, has decided to replace posters listing the Ten Commandments with posters that quote historical figures’ ideas about the Bible.

The posters that the Campbellsville Independent School District has decided to replace, entitled “Our Biblical Heritage,” were donated by civic groups under a 1978 Kentucky law. In a 5-to-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 1980 that such public displays are an infringement of the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state.

Board members had resisted removing the posters, according to Superintendent David Fryrear, but decided to replace them with other posters when the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union threatened a lawsuit.

The new posters list statements made by figures including Ronald Reagan, Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, and Christopher Columbus. The posters also quote portions of the Mayflower Compact, the Northwest Ordinance, and the pledge of allegiance.

The 18-by-24-inch posters were donated to the Campbellsville schools by the Kentucky Heritage Foundation. Mr. Fryrear called the posters “historical” rather than religious documents.

Student Phone Used

For X-Rated Calls

Several weeks after the phone number of the Hustler magazine hot line appeared on a gymnasium wall near a student-funded phone in a Washington State district, some 28 middle-school students and several high-school students began calling the number.

The telephone at Lincoln Middle School in Pullman, Wash., was paid for with student-association funds and had been used for years to let students call parents after athletic practices and school events, according to Michael D. Riggs, the school’s vice principal.

The hot-line number appeared on the wall in October. By late November, 87 calls had been made, costing the student association $52, according to Mr. Riggs.

School officials caught on to the unauthorized use of the telephone after students tipped them off. School authorities then checked the monthly phone bill. Mr. Riggs dialed the hot line number--from his home phone--to “verify” exactly who the students were calling.

“I heard a tape of a woman describing various sexual acts and breathing heavily. I was really disappointed,” said Mr. Riggs, who described the woman’s performance as “lousy.”

The school district has written letters to the students’ parents to collect for the phone calls.

The student council has removed the phone until the money for the calls has been paid. Money raised to operate the telephone comes from funds raised by the student association from the sale of magazines, Mr. Riggs said. He noted that Hustler is not one of them.

School Officials

Object to Teacher’s

Anti-Nuclear Letter

School officials in Farmington, N.M., intercepted 123 form letters last month that would have gone to 6th-grade students around the world asking them to write President Reagan and the Soviet leader Yuri Andropov urging the two men to eliminate “all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.”

The letters were addressed by a class of 6th graders at the Country Club Elementary School as part of a class project, inspired in part by the television movie “The Day After,” said William J. Childress, director of elementary education for the Farmington school district. “The Day After” depicted the probable after-effects of nuclear war.

About 75 of the letters were mailed using school funds before school officials called a halt to the project, Mr. Childress said. The remaining 123 letters were confiscated and opened by school officials. None of the letters was signed by a student, Mr. Childress added.

At issue was the “approach of the teacher,” said Mr. Childress. School officials objected to the teacher’s use of his pupils as an “instrument” to mail a letter espousing his particular viewpoint. School officials did not disapprove of a discussion of nuclear issues in the classroom, and there would have been “no problem” if the students had written their own letters, he added.

The teacher received a “mild” reprimand, Mr. Childress said.

Kan. District Admits

Student With Herpes

After Year of Debate

The Emporia, Kan., school board has agreed to enroll a handicapped 4-year-old student who contracted herpes as an infant, after more than a year of debate and prodding from the Kansas Department of Education.

The girl’s parents had asked more than a year ago that their daughter be admitted to a preschool program for handicapped children administered by the district. But the district turned down their request after some staff members threatened to resign and the parents of other children said they would withdraw from the school.

Instead, the district agreed to provide a home tutor for the girl, who has cerebral palsy in addition to herpes--an infectious virus with no known cure.

Carroll Schubert, the district’s administrative assistant, said the girl was admitted when her parents reapplied and they have offered to keep her at home when the herpes lesions are active and the risk of passing on the infection is greatest.

The state department of education also had told district officials that they must admit the girl or discontinue the special-education program for preschoolers, according to Mr. Schubert.

Parents of other children in the program are still concerned about contagion, but the program’s staff is now more receptive to the district’s decision to admit the girl, Mr. Schubert said. The change in attitude may have been the result of inservice training received by the staff from the local health office, he said.

Indiana Pupils Form

Club in Response

To Shooting Incident

Students who witnessed one student shooting another at a high school in Indiana have started a club to counteract the effects of the violent action.

According to Donald R. Golliher, principal of Crawfordsville High School, the students decided to start the club after they heard that one elementary-school student’s response to the shooting was: “Oh neat, I wish I’d been there.”

A group of students who witnessed the shooting early last month are planning a presentation for pupils in lower grades to let them know that violence is not “neat,” Mr. Golliher said.

The student group, which calls itself save (Students Against Violence in Education), is also conducting a fund-raising drive to help the student who was injured and is encouraging other students in the school to donate blood as a way of honoring the doctors and nurses who cared for the student.

The two boys involved in the shooting incident had apparently argued about a girl prior to the shooting, Mr. Golliher said.

The Boston school district and union have ended the possibility of a strike loomed in Minneapolis after months of uncertainty. The new three-year contract, reached last month, will cost the city $17 million the first year, including $7 million for a 5-percent pay raise, and $10 million and $11 million for the second and third years respectively, a district spokesman said. The city council is expected to approve the pact later this month.

The school committee, in a turnaround, agreed to a layoff system based on seniority, the spokesman said. In return, the union agreed to allow principals to choose from among the three most senior teachers instead of being limited to the most senior. The union conceded guaranteed raises in next two years.

In St. Paul, Minn., teachers last month approved a new contract that will boost salaries 6.2 percent the first year and 4.5 percent the second year, a union spokesman said. The teachers will also receive more class-preparation time.

Duluth teachers, who went on strike for 18 days last month for the first time in their history, have ratified a contract providing a 5.5-percent salary increase the first year, and a 4.4-percent increase the second year of their two-year contract.

In Minneapolis, however, the union has called for a strike on Jan. 17 if no agreement is reached with the school board before then. Negotiations ceased in November over salary and working-condition issues. If it occurs, the strike will be the district’s first in 13 years.

After more than two years of study, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) school board has approved a sweeping reform of its system of evaluating and promoting teachers. The new plan, approved last month, establishes a three-level career ladder for the district’s 4,200 teachers, and offers a salary of $37,000 for those who rise to the top level, $13,000 higher than the current maximum. (See Education Week, June 18, 1983.)

It also extends the probationary period before new teachers can win tenure from three to six years. Teams of full-time evaluators will work with teachers who are doing poorly, said Jay Robinson, the district’s superintendent, but no written tests will be given to tenured teachers. “I’m not going to put someone out because he can’t pass a test,” Mr. Robinson said. Initial costs will be about $400,000, he estimated. As more teachers receive higher salaries, the cost could rise to $6 million.

A version of this article appeared in the January 11, 1984 edition of Education Week as District News Roundup