District News Roundup

September 18, 1991 4 min read

New York City Schools Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez has announced plans to institute a mandatory youth-service program in three city schools.

The pilot program is slated to begin sometime this school year at three so-farunnamed high schools in the district. The program calls for students to initiate and run their own volunteer projects to earn credits toward graduation.

Mr. Fernandez is hoping to receive a $300,000 grant from the Surdna Foundation to begin the program. A spokesman for the foundation would not confirm such a grant, but said that members of the philanthropy’s board were interested in the project.

If the program is deemed successful, Mr. Fernandez hopes to expand it to all city public schools. Such an effort would need approval from the beard of education.

Some district schools, such as the A. Phillip Randolph School in Harlem, already have mandatory service programs in place.

The Community Service Society of New York has piloted a new publication on race and politics in New York City, with educational issues being a central focus.

Michael M. Hirsch, director of publications for the group, said the magazine’s governing beard will evaluate the response to the first issue and decide next month how frequently Prism will publish.

The first issue of Prism, introduced this summer, examined the theme of race and education and discussed bilingual education, local school governance, anti-Asian prejudice, and schools for black males. The magazine’s publishers pledged that they “will not shy away from disagreements” but instead will invite sharply posed views “to clear the air and find common ground.”

Established in 1848, the c.s.s. is a nonprofit group committed to eliminating poverty in New York City.

Officials in the Jackson, Miss., school district have substantially increased security patrols for the city’s high schools in the wake of violent incidents at two campuses, including one in which a student was killed.

Each of Jackson’s eight high schools now has a security guard from a private firm on duty during the school day, said Elayne Hayes-Anthony, assistant superintendent for public information.

One watchman also patrols the Career Development Center, a vocational school, during the evening. Before the recent violence, the district had just one private security guard.

The guards--who are unarmed, except for some who carry nightsticks--will remain on duty indefinitely, Ms. Hayes-Anthony said.

On Aug. 30, one student was killed, another wounded, and third was arrested after a restroom stabbing at Murrah High School. Police believe two male students were fighting over a girl, Ms. Hayes-Anthony said.

The following week, two students at Provine High School were believed to have been involved in a shooting in the parking lot behind the school. They have not been apprehended, Ms. Hayes-Anthony said.

The recent incidents marked the first shooting and death in the city’s public schools since 1982, she said.

The district has also put in place, at the suggestion of student leaders, a telephone hot line so that students or others can anonymously phone in information relating to past or potential violence.

Officials are also considering spot checks with metal detectors, which are not now used in Jackson, Ms. Hayes-Anthony said.

Back-to-back shootings at or adjacent to two District of Coltunbia high schools have prompted school officials to increase security patrols and consider a closed-campus lunch hour for one of the schools.

On Sept. 5, the first day of school, a crowd of students at Dunbar High School witnessed a lunchtime shooting across the street from the school, police and school officials said.

A 17-year-old and a 20-year-old reportedly not Dunbar students_were wounded, one seriously, in the drive-by shooting, said Officer Daniel Straub, a police spokesman. Two teenagers, one reportedly a 16-year-old Dunbar student, were later charged with assault with intent to kill and released pending a preliminary hearing. Late last week, the 16-year-old was killed executionstyle, apparently in retribution for the earlier incident.

School officials last week were seriously considering closing the Dunbar campus during lunch, said Pat Lambe, a district spokesman. All high schools in the city allow students to leave for lunch.

Just four days after the first incident, a gunman allegedly entered McKinley High School, argued with a 17-year-old student, and struck the student with a gun.

The suspect, who was unidentified last week, then exchanged gunfire outside the school with another 17-year-old, police said. No one was injured in that exchange. The youth was then charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

Patrols by school security and city police officers have increased at both schools, Ms. Lambe said.

The state of Missouri last week appealed a federal court order to pay an additional $71 million for Kansas City school desegregation by Oct. 1.

In an appeal filed last week in federal district court, the state argued that the court decision reached this summer contradicts a 1988 court ruling.

The 1988 ruling ordered the state to pay $150 million for Kansas City desegregation by 1992, and the state already had reached that funding level in May, the appeal said.

Judge Russell Clark responded late last week by agreeing to let the state suspend payments for Kansas City until the appeal is heard.

Gov. John D. Ashcroit warned that, if the appeal fails, about half of the new money spent on Kansas City would be taken out of the state’s budget for other school districts. Other funds would come out of the state’s allocations for the University of Missouri and such health department programs as immunization and prenatal care.

State officials have said they are willing to provide more funding for Kansas City desegregation, but would rather make the payments next year. .

A version of this article appeared in the September 18, 1991 edition of Education Week as District News Roundup