Districts News Roundup

January 11, 1989 4 min read

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has overturned a lower-court order that Eliana Martinez, a 7-year-old mentally retarded aids victim enrolled in a Tampa, Fla., school, be kept in a glass booth, separated from other children, until she was toilet-trained.

In a decision with national implications, the court ruled that school districts must prove that students with aids pose “a significant risk” to others before they can be excluded from the classroom.

The lower court had relied on testimony that the student posed “a remote and theorical” threat of transmitting the disease to others, the appeals court found. Most experts believe that aids is transmitted only through the exchange of bodily fluids during sexual contact, intravenous drug use, or blood transfusions.

The ruling “has established for the first time that a child cannot be excluded from the classroom unless the school district proves there is a significant risk,” said Stephen Hanlon, attorney for the child and her adoptive mother. Under a “significant-risk” standard, very few students infected with the virus would be excluded from the classroom, said Mr. Hanlon, who added that a number of similar cases are currently before other federal appeals courts.

Talented minority students in Bridgeport, Conn., will receive scholarships to attend the University of Bridgeport if they promise to return to the school system to teach, under a program established by the General Electric Foundation.

A donation of $250,000 will provide support for four or five students each year, according to James A. Connelly, superintendent of the Bridgeport schools.

Mr. Connelly said the program will be largely a “symbolic” step towards overcoming the severe problems the district, like many others around the country, has faced in hiring minority teachers.

The ge Teaching Scholars Program also will seek to interest local high-school students in teaching.

“Apparent confusion or ambivalence at the highest levels” has hindered imtation of San Francisco’s six-year-old school-desegregation plan, according to a new report.

The report found that insufficient academic improvements had been made at three low-performing middle schools that were designated for special programs by a consent decree approved by the federal courts in 1982.

School officials responded by citing improvements in student test scores in those schools since the plan was implemented.

The court-ordered evaluation was written by James Guthrie, an education professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick must decide whether to extend or modify the district’s desegregation plan before it expires in June.

Building projects in Boston’s proposed Midtown Cultural District will have to include day-care facilities for tenants, under a plan being considered by the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

The plan initially would create 611 day-care slots in the proposed complex of offices, retail shops, housing, and cultural facilities spanning 28 blocks in downtown Boston.

Developers would be required to provide centers of from 4,000 to 12,000 square feet, depending on the size of the building.

Some developers have maintained that the requirements would be an unfair burden.

But, according to Kristen McCormack, the b.r.a.'s director of development for the Midtown Cultural District, “most developers are enlightened enough to know that it is in their self-interest to provide day-care facilities in their buildings.”

The day-care standard is similar to one in effect in San Francisco.

More than half of Philadelphia public-school students with health problems are not getting medical care, according to statistics collected by the district.

The data showed that 53 percent of the 4,272 public-school students and 43 percent of the 885 parochial-school students who were diagnosed by school-health personnel at the beginning of the 1987-88 year as having mild to severe ailments--such as heart murmurs, breast cysts, and upper-respiratory infections--had failed to get medical help by June 1988.

Nearly half of the public-school students and more than one-third of the parochial-school students who were diagnosed as having a vision problem did not receive follow-up care.

Chicago and Cleveland have joined a growing number of other urban districts in banning “beepers.”

The Chicago City Council last month unanimously approved an ordinance prohibiting electronic paging devices in both public and private schools. The school board had already banned beepers, which are often used by students engaged in drug sales. The city ordinance establishes a fine of up to $500.

The Cleveland board of education also adopted an anti-beeper policy last month.

More than 50 major districts across the country have similar bans, including Miami, Philadelphia, Houston, Baltimore, San Diego, and Washington.

A version of this article appeared in the January 11, 1989 edition of Education Week as Districts News Roundup