Districts News Roundup

May 02, 1990 5 min read

A regional accrediting agency has denied accreditation to a 17-year-old alternative program for Native American children in St. Paul whose educational quality had been publicly criticized by a former administrator of the school.

Philip LeBeau, state director for the North Central Association, said that the Red School House was denied accreditation last month because, despite several warnings, school officials filed a required annual report to the nca five months late.

The report arrived too late for an adequate appraisal of the school’s educational quality to be made, Mr. LeBeau said.

The Red School House, which enrolls approximately 150 children from several tribes in its K-12 program, was first accredited by the nca last year.

Last July, in a high-profile resignation speech on the steps of the State Capitol, Jerry Buckanaga, who served for seven months as the school’s director of education, called the school a “failed” institution, and charged that it remained in business solely to earn federal and state grants.

Several employees who backed Mr. Buckanaga resigned at the same time. But Stephanie Autumn, the school’s administrative coordinator, has argued in the local press that the school’s redesigned educational program is “200 percent better” under the new regime.

School officials last week referred questions about accreditation to Ms. Autumn, who could not be reached for comment.

A federal judge in New York has ordered the Liverpool (N.Y.) Central School District to provide special services to a multiply handicapped student while awaiting the outcome of an appeal of the decision mandating those services.

The dispute involves a 17-year-old student whose parents had asked the district to provide a full-time teacher of the deaf. A state hearing officer ruled last year in favor of the parents and the state education commissioner affirmed that ruling. The school district has appealed the order to a federal court.

In his ruling last month, U.S. District Judge Howard Munson said failing to provide the child immediately with a special teacher violates the so-called “stay put” rule of federal special-education law, which states that a handicapped child shall stay in the current placement pending the outcome of a placement dispute. Because both the parents and the state school chief agree that the child needs a special teacher, he said, the district must provide one pending the outcome of its appeal.

District officials had said they interpreted the “stay put” rule to mean the child’s interim placement should remain the same as it was before the hearing officer’s order.

Federal agents are conducting a nationwide search for a California couple accused of bilking more than $2 million from a Pennsylvania school district.

Marc and Teresa Suckman, who ran a now-defunct office-supply company in Los Angeles, were charged in the case last month in federal district court in Philadelphia.

The Suckmans are accused of blackmailing a former business manager for the New Hope-Solebury School district into paying them more than $2 million between 1984 and 1988 for pens that were never delivered.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert E. Goldman said the couple allegedly coerced the business manager into funneling them the money by giving her a tape recorder and a pen and then threatening to tell her superiors that she had illegally accepted a gift from a supplier. The business manager, Kathryn Hock, pleaded guilty to stealing the money last month and is awaiting sentencing.

A recall effort is set to begin against three members of the Santa Fe, N.M., school board who voted this year to remove a first-year high-school football coach who had a losing record.

Concerned Citizens of Santa Fe plans to seek signatures of voters to force a recall vote of Gilbert Alarid, Jimmie Martinez, and Estefanita Trujillo.

The three board members voted in January to remove Wally Greene from his position as football coach at Santa Fe High School. Two other board members voted to approve the recommendation of school administrators that Mr. Greene be retained as coach, despite his 1-9 record in his first year.

At a court hearing to determine whether the citizens’ group could seek the recall, one of the dissenting board members said the three who voted to fire the coach had considered the ethnic backgrounds of candidates in making employment decisions.

Kentucky’s third-largest school district may once again manage its own financial affairs, the state board of education has announced.

The board seized control of some aspects of the Pike County School District’s finances in July 1988. At the time, the district had a $2.3-million deficit and State Superintendent John Brock said political problems in the county were hampering education there.

In an April 10 letter to the district’s superintendent, Mr. Brock ended state supervision of the district’s budget.

Last August, the district formed a panel of retired teachers to make recommendations on the hiring of new teachers. This step was designed to help eliminate patronage in the county, said one administrator.

The Pike county system enrolls about 15,000 students in 38 schools.

A high-school teacher in Providencetown, Mass., has filed a complaint alleging that the school district has decided against rehiring him for the 1990-91 school year because he is homosexual.

In charges filed earlier this month with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the teacher, Philip Buckley, charges that the district did not reprimand students who taunted him because of his sexual orientation.

In a statement released by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, which is representing him, Mr. Buckley said “I am being discriminated against by the [school system] because of my sexual orientation and perceived handicap.”

Mary Bonauto, a glad lawyer, said Mr. Buckley is the first teacher to file a complaint under a new state law that prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Glynn County, Ga., school board has decided not to automatically bar students who are convicted felons from attending regular high-school classes.

The issue was raised when a 17-year-old Brunswick High School student who had been convicted as an adult of drug trafficking and had spent time in prison was readmitted to a regular classroom. The student has since left the school system.

James Bishop, a school-board lawyer, was asked by a board member to research the possiblilty of a policy requiring students with criminal records to attend an adult-education program rather than regular school.

At a meeting last month, Mr. Bishop told board members that such a policy would be unfair and unnecessary and that existing disciplinary laws are sufficient. The board will continue its current practice of evaluating each case of student offenders on an individual basis, he said.

A version of this article appeared in the May 02, 1990 edition of Education Week as Districts News Roundup