Districts News Roundup

February 08, 1989 3 min read

A group of Montgomery County, Md., parents agreed last week to drop plans to hire a mathematics teacher for their children’s school after the district superintendent promised to seek county funds for an additional instructor next year.

The parents’ effort had generated heated controversy in the district over the fairness of allowing parents to provide resources for some schools that would not be available to others.

Members of the parent-teacher association at the East Silver Spring Elementary School, a magnet school for mathematics and science in the Washington suburb, had planned to pool their own money to hire a part-time “volunteer” to supplement the teaching staff, after failing for three years to persuade the district to furnish one.

But Superintendent Harry Pitt quashedan, arguing that the district historically had opposed such arrangements as giving an “inequitable” advantage to students in well-to-do areas.

Parent leaders had vowed to ignore Mr. Pitt’s decision and openly criticized the district’s management during a meeting of the school board late last month.

After meeting with the parents, however, Mr. Pitt agreed to ask the county council for $30,000 to hire another teacher for the school. He denied that his move was in response to parental pressure, saying that he made the decision after reviewing staff and enrollment figures at several schools.

The Fairfax County, Va., school system is not responsible for the legal costs incurred by a child with aids who sued to be readmitted to school, a panel of federal judges has ruled.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Richmond ruled that the district did not have to pay $15,380 in lawyers’ fees because its January 1988 decision to readmit the child was not influenced by a lawsuit filed on his behalf during the preceding week.

The child had been barred from kindergarten during the last two months of 1987.

In a related development, a Florida district has agreed to pay $350,000 to a child with aids who was barred from school between February and September 1987.

The settlement between the Manatee County school board and the child, Christopher Case, is expected to be approved by a federal judge in Tampa, said Judy Kavanaugh, a lawyer for the boy.

Mid-year pay cuts affecting teachers and other employees of the East St. Louis school district constitute an unfair labor practice, according to a complaint filed with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board by the city’s teachers’ union.

The board has agreed to hear the case and to seek an injunction to bar the district from carrying out plans to change its benefits policy and to withhold up to two days’ pay each month, said Terry Turley, president of the East St. Louis Federation of Teachers.

Mr. Turley said that existing contracts with employees prevent the school board, under strict state supervision because of the district’s weakened financial condition, from cutting salaries in order to reduce the budget by $1 million.

School officials in Horry County, S.C., returned books dealing with abortion and homosexuality to school-libary shelves late last month, after their lawyer advised them that inclusion of the volumes did not violate the state’s new health- and sex-education law.

The law prohibits teachers from providing information about abortion, and allows them to refer to homosexuality only when discussing sexually transmitted diseases.

The officials said they removed the books because they were unsure whether the law could be interpreted to include school libraries as an extension of the classroom, or librarians as teachers.

Preschool-age children who live near a Leeds, Ala., factory that recovers lead from batteries will be tested for unsafe levels of the metal in their blood.

Children are believed to be especially vulnerable to lead exposure, which has been linked to heart and kidney problems as well as learning disabilities.

Area residents had pressed for the tests after learning that a higher proportion of learning-disabled students had been found at the local elementary school than at other schools in the district.

The tests will be conducted this summer.

A high-school hockey player in Wisconsin died of heart failure last month after being hit in the chest by a puck.

Jeff Merrill, a 15-year-old member of the team from Goodrich High School in Fond du Lac was struck in an area of his chest that was not protected by padding, said Ron McCreedy, assistant principal at the school.

The youth went into convulsions immediately and was pronounced dead 30 minutes later. The county coroner said the force of the puck stopped the boy’s heart.

A version of this article appeared in the February 08, 1989 edition of Education Week as Districts News Roundup