District News Roundup

January 15, 1992 4 min read

The General Motors Corporation and the Ontario, Ohio, school district have settled a tax dispute that will end up costing the district more than $1 million in back taxes and an annual loss of more than $135,000.

The corporation challenged the appraised value of its Ontario-Mansfield plant before a local board of tax appeals in 1987. When that board ruled in the favor of the school district, G.M. appealed to a state-level appeals board.

The district and the corporation agreed on a settlement, however, under which the value of the G.M. plant is reduced from $52 million to $46.7 million for the tax years from 1987 to 1989, and to $36.3 million for the tax years 1990 to 1995.

Under the settlement, the district, which receives 70 percent of the real-estate and personal-property taxes G.M. pays on the plant, must repay more than $316,000 in back taxes for 1987 through 1990. In addition, the district will lose nearly $400,000 in other taxes for various years and more than $135,000 per year for tax years 1990 to 1995.

The district’s superintendent, Gregg Morris, said he was “very disappointed by the decision.” The school board will meet early this month to discuss the tax cuts, he said, and likely will consider a combination of tax levies and program cuts to offset the huge losses.

A group of parents and students has sued the Dade County school district because they claim the district is promoting homosexuality and drug use by giving out information about a Miami telephone hot line for teenagers.

The Rutherford Institute, a conservative legal foundation based in Virginia, filed the suit in federal court on behalf of Parents Opposed to Propaganda in Schools, five minors, and their mothers. The action targets “The Link,” a toll-free service run by Switchboard of Miami that youths can call to hear more than 70 taped messages on subjects such as religion, sexuality, and drugs.

“The Link-line program is a logical outgrowth of the concept of the school as surrogate parent,” said Larry Crain, a lawyer for the Rutherford Institute. “The danger here is the extent to which this Miami school system has gone to use illegal means to supplant parental authority.”

The suit, which also names Switchboard of Miami and Superintendent of Schools Octavio Visiedo, seeks to bar counselors in Dade County schools from distributing cards that include the Link-line phone number.

As of last week, school officials had not yet been served with the lawsuit, so they had no response.

The Kentucky Board of Education was expected to begin hearings Jan. 13 on charges aimed at ousting all five members of the Harlan County school board.

The start of the hearings was postponed last month after a member of the county school board was hospitalized.

Kentucky Commissioner of Education Thomas C. Boysen in November filed a number of noncriminal charges of misconduct under the state’s 1990 education-reform act against the school district’s board and its superintendent, Robert Shepherd. Mr. Shepherd, who resigned as superintendent but was then hired by the district as its technology director, last month was suspended from that job as well after Mr. Boysen threatened to bring charges against Grace Ann Toliver, the interim superintendent who had rehired the former superintendent.

A spokesman for the state education department said that the state’s case now focuses only on the county school-board members, who have been charged under the reform act with misconduct ranging from disregard of competitive- bidding rules to nepotism.

Five high-achieving high-school students in San Diego have been suspended for participating in an exam-duplication and - distribution scheme.

Administrators at Patrick Henry High School charged last month that the five juniors, all of whom were enrolled in advanced classes, had obtained a master key that gave them access to the school’s duplicating room. The students made copies of English, chemistry, and mathematics tests and distributed them free to a large, but unknown, number of their fellow students, officials say. School officials believe the cheating scam had been operating since last spring.

School officials have since changed all the locks at the school have and are considering charging the students for the $7,800 expense. They are also weighing criminal trespass charges against the five.

In addition, said Susan Braun, a school-district trustee, the students face possible academic failure. The five students must also finish the school year at a different school. The district is also considering enacting an academic-honesty policy, she said.

Ms. Braun attributed the scheme to the pressure many students feel to gain admission to California’s inexpensive, but highly competitive, state university system.

The Boston Teachers Union is pressing ahead with a lawsuit filed Jan. 3 to protest Mayor Raymond L. Flynn’s decision to delay sending out teachers’ paychecks.

The Mayor, who said he withheld the checks because the city’s school department had not balanced its budget, released them the same day the suit was filed. They were to have been mailed on Dec. 31.

In addition to the action by the teachers’ union, which also filed a grievance with the school system and a formal complaint with the state labor- relations commission over the issue, a group of about 100 black Bostonians held a sit-in at the Mayor’s office to protest his decision to withhold the checks.

Although most Boston teachers received their money last week, Edward J. Doherty, the president of the teachers’ union and an unsuccessful challenger to Mr. Flynn in last fall’s mayoral election, said the union plans to organize a protest demonstration at a speech Mr. Flynn is scheduled to give this week.

A version of this article appeared in the January 15, 1992 edition of Education Week as District News Roundup