District News Roundup

March 18, 1992 6 min read
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A Maricopa County Superior Court jury this month awarded the mother of an Arizona high-school sophomore who died of heat-related injuries during a football practice $850,000 in damages.

Bernice Reed-Davis charged the Paradise Valley school district with the wrongful death of her son, 14-year-old Abdul S. Reed. The student collapsed during a two-hour workout in full uniform on Sept. 2, 1988, his first day of football practice at Shadow Mountain High School. An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was dehydration and elevated body temperature.

In 1989, the Paradise Valley district altered its policies governing outdoor athletic practices by mandating water breaks, screening weather conditions, and distributing informational pamphlets on heat-related sports injuries to students and parents.

Joseph Dunn, a lawyer representing Ms. Reed-Davis, hopes the verdict will make more coaches and administrators aware of the threat of heat-related illness and death. “If anyone had used common sense, that boy would still be alive,’' Mr. Dunn said.

He added that Ms. Reed-Davis expressed interest in using some of the award to create a sports-medicine fund to educate coaches and others about heat illness.

A high-school junior attending an all-girls’ Catholic school outside her public-school district’s limits has no right to free bus transportation, Massachusetts’ highest court has ruled.

The girl, Joanna Fedele, argued in a lawsuit that she was entitled to the same transportation provided to boys who attend an all-male Catholic high school within the Westwood school district.

The district provides free bus transportation to students attending public or private schools within the town limits if they live more than one and a half miles from school.

The young woman attends Ursuline Academy, in the neighboring town of Dedham. She asked to be provided with bus transportation to Xaverian High School, the all-boys’ school in Westwood, where she could get transportation to Ursuline.

The district’s refusal to provide such transportation constituted sexual and religious discrimination, she contended.

In its March 2 opinion, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld the school district, saying officials based the policy on geographic boundaries and did not discriminate against the student based on her sex or religion.

Vandals broke into and defaced an Orthodox Jewish day school in North Hollywood, Calif., earlier this month, painting and drawing swastikas, Ku Klux Klan symbols, and obscenities on several interior walls.

Officials at the boys’ campus of the private Valley Torah High School also reported that a computer, a printer, and an electric typewriter were stolen, said its principal, Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger. In addition, the intruders threw papers on the floor and ransacked files, he said.

The damage, done between 5 P.M. March 6 and the morning of March 7, was confined to four offices and a hallway in the one-story school, Rabbi Stulberger said.

The 9-12 school, with 120 boys and 75 girls at another site, was not occupied at the time of the break-in, he said.

Police had no suspects last week, but, Rabbi Stulberger said, gang activity, crime, and violence are on the rise in the area.

Sunday classes were held as usual after the incident, and the students that day helped paint over the graffiti, the rabbi said.

District of Columbia teachers will receive an 11 percent pay raise over the next two years under a tentative contract agreement reached between the Washington Teachers Union and the city’s board of education.

The agreement also would extend the students’ school day 30 minutes by cutting teachers’ preparation time in half.

The union had protested its lack of a contract by imposing a work-to-the-rule policy, with participating teachers refusing to perform any duties not specifically detailed in their old contract.

Under the proposed new contract, teachers will receive a 6.5 percent raise this year, retroactive to Oct. 1, and a 4.5 percent increase next school year. Union leaders had complained that teachers in the district were being paid less than their suburban counterparts.

The contract still must be ratified by the union’s membership and approved by the school board.

A plan to send 22 public-school students from Portsmouth, Va., to a private academy has been canceled after school officials were unable to raise enough money to pay the children’s tuition.

Under the plan, Portsmouth students could have applied to attend the Cape Henry Collegiate School, located about 10 miles from Portsmouth in Virginia Beach. Cape Henry would have discounted its $6,500 tuition for the public-school students, and the public schools would have provided transportation. But Superintendent Richard Trumble of Portsmouth failed to secure the $165,000 in foundation funding needed to foot the bill.

The plan, which has been called Virginia’s first serious attempt at promoting school choice, attracted widespread criticism from opponents who said it could undermine and resegregate the city’s public schools.

Mr. Trumble has no immediate plans to revive the proposal, but he said he “remains committed to the concept.’'

Houston school-board members have approved the creation of a free, all-day elementary summer-school program.

The program, based in part on a pilot effort, is touted as an extension of the 180-day school year, and will be available to all elementary-school students. Classes will be held from 7:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. from June 10 through July 16.

Summer courses will emphasize reading, writing, mathematics, and preparation for the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, a statewide test administered to 7th-graders.

Based on preliminary surveys and parent response, school officials estimate that 50,000 to 60,000 of the district’s 100,000 elementary-age students will take part in the program.

Revenue from a 3-cent property-tax increase will be used to pay for the estimated $14-million cost of the program.

While the emphasis of the extension is improving student achievement, Superintendent Frank Petruzielo said the program also aims to provide “full-service schools.’' School-district planners and city officials are coordinating swimming lessons at municipal pools, after-hours day care, and other enrichment projects.

“When kids get there,’' Mr. Petruzielo said, “it won’t be more of the same thing.’'

Teachers who work in the summer program will be paid $3,600 to $5,000 more a year. Instructors will also take part in a daily end-of-day group session to evaluate the program and students.

The Houston Federation of Teachers, the Houston Education Association, and the Congress of Houston Teachers have endorsed the plan. If the program is successful, school officials hope to expand it to middle and high schools.

A committee of officials from the Minneapolis school district and eight neighboring suburban systems has proposed building three new magnet schools to draw a racially balanced student body from throughout their communities.

The committee’s tentative proposal calls for three pilot elementary schools enrolling up to 600 students each to be built downtown and in the northwest and southwest parts of the city, according to Lyle A. Baker, the director of grants and compliance for the Minneapolis district.

The committee has stipulated that the students and staff members must be in the schools voluntarily, and that all funding for the schools must come from the state.

A version of this article appeared in the March 18, 1992 edition of Education Week as District News Roundup


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