District News Roundup

November 08, 1989 7 min read

A series of racial incidents at a high school in Evergreen, Colo., has drawn the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and sparked concern among students, school officials, and community residents.

The lone black faculty member at Evergreen High School in the Jefferson County School District in suburban Denver last month received a threatening note that included racial slurs.

Three weeks earlier, three black students transferred from the school after a group of white students claimed that they had organized students to vote for white student groups at a school “lip sync” music contest. The black students had won the contest the previous year.

Last spring, and again on a recent weekend, graffiti insulting blacks and Jews were found on school walls.

Only seven black students remain at the school, and some parents have charged that they have been harassed with racial epithets by a small but unidentified band of white students.

An fbi agent visited the school late last month to gather information for the U.S. Justice Department’s office of civil rights. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission is also investigating the incidents.

The school’s principal has formed a task force to examine the problems, and students last week held a rally in support of racial tolerance.

“There is a great deal of concern in the community,” said Marilyn Salzman, a spokesman for the district.

Philadelphia officials are sifting through employee records following an audit that found dozens of people who were working for both the city and the school district in apparent violation of the city charter.

The September audit by the acting city controller identified 72 people on the payrolls of both agencies. The city’s charter forbids city employees from working for another public agency.

The audit also turned up cases of alleged fraud in which, for example, employees were scheduled to work at both agencies during the same hours or had allowed no travel time between jobs.

The 72 employees were among 530 employees whose Social Security numbers turned up on both the school district’s and the city’s payrolls in 1988, according to Connie C. McCalla, the school district’s acting executive director of human resources. She said last week that both the city and the school district were poring over the original list of 530 to determine how many of those dual employments were illegal.

The superintendent of the Fairfax County, Va., schools has proposed that the school day be restructured to provide a seventh class period for 7th through 12th graders and more time for music and art classes in the district’s eltary schools.

Under Robert R. Spillane’s plan, which has received mostly favorable early reviews, the district would hire 495 new teachers, according to Dolores Bohen, an assistant superintendent. Initially, she added, parents had been very concerned about the plan, which would cost an estimated $24.9 million.

A seventh class would be added by shortening the average class period from 50 to 47 minutes and lengthening the school day by 30 minutes. Teachers would continue to teach five periods a day and have one period free for planning, but would also be assigned to “instructional assignment” periods that might involve tutoring or attending staff-development meetings, Ms. Bohen said.

Each school would decide how best to use the additional period, she said, but teachers would not have to teach an additional class.

In the elementary schools, the school week would be lengthened by 150 minutes, a move that would mean an end to the practice of dismissing school early on Mondays to give teachers planning time. Instead, teachers would have five 45-minute planning periods and one 60-minute planning period each week, Ms. Bohen said.

The board of education is scheduled to vote on the plan Nov. 16. If enough money can be found, the restructuring would begin next school year.

Hispanics in the New York region may soon be receiving help from two umbrella organizations being formed to unite and fund Hispanic cultural and social-service groups.

The Hispanic Federation of New York City, which is being assisted during its planning stage by the local chapter of United Way, will encourage the city’s 2 million Hispanic residents to assist 100 community-based organizations, federation officials said.

The Latino Fund of Tri-state will seek contributions to stimulate economic development and aid cultural institutions and volunteerism in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, said Luis Alvarez, chairman of the fund’s governing board.

The Detroit Urban League has inaugurated what its organizers say is the nation’s first toll-free hot line devoted to helping troubled black males.

N. Charles Anderson, league president for the city, said the counseling and referral service--(800) 832-MALE--opened Oct. 3 and has been publicized through the city’s public schools and social agencies.

Use of the service has been heavy, Mr. Anderson said, with most callers express6ing concerns about unemployment. Substance abuse and homelessness also are frequently cited problems, he said.

The Washington, D.C. public schools have begun a partnership with the U.S. Navy to provide tutoring to academically troubled students in the district.

Responding to calls to join the so-called “Navy Tutorial Project,” some 300 civilian and uniformed Navy employees have volunteered to tutor more than 350 students from seven Washington schools once a week for an hour, Andrew E. Jenkins 3rd, schools superintendent, announced late last month.

The project expands on a similar program that began last spring at Merrit Elementary School. Students at all the schools will also go on Saturday “enrichment” field trips to expand their knowledge of the city and to foster increased vocabulary development.

The Washington, D.C., public schools have failed to develop a strategy for meeting the needs of all immigrant students and insuring that their education is complete, a recent study has concluded.

A team of consultants hired by Andrew E. Jenkins 3rd, the superintendent of schools, concludes in an upcoming report that the district lacks a system of accountability for the education of its 7,400 language-minority students and does not provide them with full access to, among other programs, special education and remedial education.

The report recommends an overhaul and expansion of several programs, including bilingual education.

Local school districts have the right to refuse to participate in New York State’s three-year-old Excellence in Teaching program, the state court of appeals has ruled.

The Elmira school district sued the state in 1986 out of concern that the state bonus program to boost teachers’ salaries would one day end, leaving school districts paying for higher salaries.

But the school district has since joined the program, along with all but two of the state’s 698 local districts.

“It’s really a moot issue,” said Robert Rice, a spokesman for the New York State United Teachers.

The court ruled Oct. 24 that school districts must negotiate with unions on how to distribute the money to teachers, but not on whether to participate in the program.

Two Georgia teachers have won a reverse-discrimination suit against their superiors in Hancock County.

The teachers, Patricia Goldsborough and Barbara Martin, were awarded $20,000 and $15,000, respectively, in back pay last month by the U.S. District Court in Macon. Named as defendants in the suit were the Hancock County school system; M.E. Lewis, the county superintendent of schools; Ralph Warren, the school principal; and Edith Grant, a probate judge.

The plaintiffs contended that they were forced to quit after Judge Grant publicly upbraided them. Speaking at a 1988 student assembly that was part of Black History Month, Judge Grant, who is black, criticized both teachers, who are white, for allegedly knowing little about black history and culture.

Both women are now teaching elsewhere. Lawyers for the school district have filed an appeal.

Following complaints from the local teachers’ union, the faculty of Surrattsville High School in Prince George’s County, Va., has agreed to modify the school schedule to comply with the union contract.

As part of a plan to restructure the curriculum and school day, teachers were alternately receiving one hour and 45 minutes of planning time and half an hour of planning time each day.

The union contract, however, calls for 45 minutes of planning time each day.

After complaints from Kenneth Reinshuttle, the field service director for the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association, the faculty agreed to add 15 minutes to the half-hour planning session to comply with the contract, according to Eugene J. Colgan, principal of the high school.

Mr. Colgan said he was disappointed that the union did not support the faculty’s attempt to change the school schedule through site-based management.

Noting that the union has received complaints from teachers at Surrattsville, Mr. Reinshuttle said the union has been “run over” in the district’s attempts to institute school-based management.

A version of this article appeared in the November 08, 1989 edition of Education Week as District News Roundup