District News Roundup

October 02, 1991 3 min read
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The first head of New York City’s School Construction Authority will step down this month after a series of policy disputes placed him at odds with Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez.

In press reports, however, Charles E. Williams denied that he was leaving his $145,000-a-year post because of the publicly aired disputes or because his independent building authority has been forced to cut $750 million from its budget over the next five years.

Last month, Mr. Fernandez refused to accept Mr. Williams’s budget because it did not include enough administrative cuts to absorb the ordered downsizing.

Mr. Fernandez also ordered that a committee be established to review the agency’s management structure. Questions had been raised about staff size, salaries, and the purchase of 85 automobiles last spring at a time the city was experiencing a severe budget crunch.

Mr. Williams, a retired Army general, had served as the agency’s chief executive officer since its creation by the state in 1989 to overhaul the city’s troubled school-construction and -repair program.

Three Milwaukee teachers whose rowdy classrooms were secretly videotaped and then nationally televised last month have been suspended without pay.

The videotape, done in secret by a student over a period of several days last spring, shows teachers at North Division High School ignoring student misbehavior, such as playing dice.

Broadcast nationally last month on the NBC television program “Expose,” the tape spurred Superintendent Howard Fuller to call emergency misconduct meetings with each teacher and to suspend all three for three days with pay.

After school officials confirmed the misconduct last week, the teachers were suspended indefinitely without pay.

The Milwaukee teachers’ union can still appeal the suspensions to the director of personnel and the school board. If such an appeal were unsuccessful, the teachers would be barred from working in the district’s schools.

The district would not identify the teachers by name.

A principal in Fairburn, Ga., was removed from her post last month after ordering two 5th-grade boys to wear signs with the word “nigger” pinned to their shirts.

Eva Clark, principal of M.P. Word Elementary School near Atlanta, had ordered the boys--one black and one white--to wear the sign because both had used the racial epithet during a lunchroom fight. Ms. Clark told the local media that she was trying to deter name-calling.

But the parents of the black child complained that their son was so embarrassed by the incident that he refused to return to school the next day.

Ms. Clark, a 27-year veteran of the Fulton County school district, was suspended for 10 days without pay and then transferred to an administrative post with no salary change. She has also been barred from being a principal in the district.

Ms. Clark is the first person known to have been punished for violating an anti-bigotry policy begun by the district in January.

A federal judge has ruled that an Idaho school district must allow a group of junior-high-school students to meet for Bible study during non-instructional time.

U.S. District Judge Marion J. Callister of Boise ruled Sept. 10 that the federal Equal Access Act requires the Twin Falls school district to allow students to use school property for religious meetings. The 1984 law requires districts that accept federal funds to treat student religious groups on the same basis as other groups not directly related to the school curriculum.

Parents of three former students at Robert Stuart Junior High School sued the district earlier this year after officials denied their request to use school facilities for after-school prayer and Bible-study meetings.

Judge Callister said the federal law, which was upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, tokes precedence over clauses in the Idaho Constitution that forbid the use of public money or property for religious purposes.

Edward J. Doherty, president of the Boston Teachers Union, last week won the right to face Mayor Raymond L. Flynn in the Nov. 5 election.

The union president, who placed ahead of the Rev. Grayland Ellis-Hagler, faces an uphill battle. In the preliminary election, the mayor won 67 percent of the vote, setting a record for a winning percentage in Boston.

A version of this article appeared in the October 02, 1991 edition of Education Week as District News Roundup


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