Districts News Roundup

September 12, 1990 4 min read

Several members of the Detroit school board have come under fire for allowing an Illinois textbook publisher to pay many of their expenses during a business visit to Chicago that included the wedding of one of he board members to a company employee.

Scott-Foresman & Company of Glenview, Ill., furnished air fare and meals to the school-board’s president, Lawrence Patrick Jr.; its vice president, Kay Everett; and a member, Frank Hayden, when they traveled to Chicago last month for meetings Hayden’s wedding to an editor in the publishing firm, according to school officials.

A fourth board member, Joseph Blanding, drove to Chicago, but did allow the company to pay for his dinner, reports published in the Detroit Free Press said. Mr. Hayden, who said he would sign a conflict-of-interest statement and not vote on any proposed contract with Scott-Foresman, denied any wrongdoing in connection with the trip. He said he and his fiancee had decided to marry that weekend since “I was going to be in town anyway.”

Messrs. Hayden, Patrick, and Blanding, who were elected in 1988 on a reform slate, drew criticism last year after they charged book-company representatives $50 each to attend a reception. The money was later donated to a scholarship fund.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has asked a federal district court to extend for five years a consent decree requiring the district to improve management opportunities for women. The original 10-year decree, the result of a class-action suit brought against the district in 1980, expired in June. Although the district has complied with the commitments it made in that decree, according to Richard K. Mason, the district’s special counsel, its goal is to have women in at least 50 percent of management positions requiring a teaching certificate.

The decree called for the district to recruit and appoint more women to be principals, regional administrators, assistant superintendents, and other management positions.

According to a recent report by the district, women make up 75 percent of the assistant principals in elementary schools and 63 percent of the elementary principals. Before the decree, they constituted 55 percent of the assistant principals and 35 percent of the principals in elementary schools.

The number of women who are junior-high-school principals has risen from 19 percent to 43 percent, and the number who are high-school principals has increased from 6 percent to 38 percent.

A private school in Cambridge, Mass., and its former school psychologist have settled for more than $70,000 a civil suit that charges them with negligence for failing to report allegations of sexual abuse by a former teacher.5

The suit was filed by the mother of one of two male students at the Buckingham, Browne and Nichols school who alleged in 1987 that Edward H. Washburn, a former teacher at the school, had sexually abused them. In late 1988, Mr. Washburn--who is suit--received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to raping his nephew, and sexually abusing another boy.

In her suit, the mother, who is not named, claimed the school had been negligent in failing to report the allegations of sexual abuse, said Clyde Bergstresser, her lawyer. The suit also alleged that the school’s former psychologist was negligent because he’d been counseling both Mr. Washburn and his sister at the same time, and did not report the allegations.

The number of students attacked with deadly weapons in Los Angeles Unified School District buildings increased 36 percent during the last school year, the district has reported.

The district recorded 379 attacks on students involving deadly weapons in 1989-90, up from 278 the previous year. The number of serious assaults on school employees decreased 11 percent, but the number of guns found on school grounds totaled 354, up 29 percent over the previous year, officials said.

The total number of attacks on all persons on campus increased, but the total number of criminal incidents decreased 16 percent.

In June, the school board approved regulations that call for the automatic expulsion of any student in the 7th grade or above

( who is caught with a firearm or involved in a serious assault with any weapon. Previously, most students caught with weapons were transferred to other schools.

Georgia’s largest school district is suing the state to recover part of the costs of court-ordered desegregation.5

In a lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, the 73,000-student Dekalb County School District said segregation was required by state law until the early 1960’s, and thus the state should share the costs of desegregation through busing and the construction and operation of new magnet schools.

Since 1977, the district has had to spend more than $20 million to bus students, and $5 million to open eight magnet schools this fall to attract white students, according to the suit and district officials.

The Dekalb claim follows a similar suit filed last March by the Savannah-Chatham County schools, which asks the state to pay $800,000 in desegregation costs.

A version of this article appeared in the September 12, 1990 edition of Education Week as Districts News Roundup