Districts News Roundup

June 05, 1991 4 min read

The federal government has agreed to pay some $2.7 million to settle a suit brought by the families of children who allegedly were molested at a day-care centerat the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In the last of the nine settlement agreements, the government last month agreed to pay one girl $615,000 over the next 40 )# years, according to Assistant U.S. AttorneyEdward T. Ferguson 3rd. Hers was the larg) est of the settlements, the rest of which

The actual cost of all the settlements to the government will be nearly $1.2 million, Mr. Ferguson said. But with interest accumulated over time, he said, the totalpayout to the children could be about $2.7million.3

While no criminal charges were ever brought in the case, the government agreedto pay because “a settlement of these claims ... was in the best interests of the children involved,” precluding the need for them totestify at trial, Mr. Ferguson said.0

Allegations first arose in the fall of 1984that two women employed at the West Point Child Development Center abused six girls and five boys, then ages 1 to 3, whowere children of military personnel or civilian employees at the academy. The women! no longer work at the center, Mr. Ferguson” said.)#

A former member of a high-school choir in Kentucky has filed a federal ),& lawsuit charging that her personal reli)’ gious beliefs were violated when she was )( required to sing at a church performance )&) last year to receive credit for a choir class.)

    Heather McDowell, a former student at )#+ Louisville’s Moore High School, sang ), her choir at a church in west Louisville ).- where the school’s principal, George Carson ). Jr., was a member. Mr. Carson also gave an )/ address during the program.

    Heather’s father, Robert, removed his daughter from choir class after attending the program.)

    According to the lawsuit, filed by Mr. 4 McDowell and the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, by requir)6 ing the class to perform at a 8church func)&7 tion, school officials placed their stamp of )%8 approval on the religious content of the con)9 cert.):

    The requirement “forced the plaintiffs to ); engage in religious practices” that they did )< not freely choose, the suit said. It also said )= that the actions caused “substantial anL)9> guish, suffering, and emotional distress” for )? the plaintiffs.)


    The suit, which names as defendants Mr.Carson, the school’s music teacher, and the

    Jefferson County school district, seeks to ), bar school officials permanently from con6tinuing the practice. 70

    Amid charges of conflict of interest, )% the Atlanta Board of Education last L)7 month awarded a $50,000 contract to acity councilman and the mayor’s press )
    secretary to study the board’s televi)5 sion and radio stations.)

    The decision was referred to the city’s ). ethics board for a final ruling after the L)3 the board that he thought that City Coun)! cilman Jabari Simama’s involvement vio), lated the city’s charter. The charter prohib) its elected officials and city employees fromdoing business with city agencies unless ). they offer sealed bids.

    Critics complained that there were no sealed bids and that the contract contained no itemized breakdown of how the money is to be spent. Moreover, they said, the nation) al Corporation for Public Broadcasting L) could have conducted the management L)

    study of WPBA-TV and WABE-FM free ofcharge.)’

    Mr. Simama, a professor of broadcastingat Clark Atlanta University, told the schoolboard that he was qualified to conduct the study and said there was no conflict of inter)! est because the school system is not a L);" branch of the city government.0

    An ethics-board ruling is expected by the )$ middle of the month.


    A Los Angeles Superior Court judge )’ has ruled that a local Boy Scout council )( may bar a homosexual from becoming )) a Scout leader.)

      Superior Court Judge Sally G. Disco L)>+ ruled that the Mount Diablo Council of the, Scouts may exercise its rights under the ),- First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ). to bar homosexuals from being Scout lead)!/ ers. The ruling affects that regional office alone.

      The judge had earlier issued a prelimina) 2 ry ruling that the Scout council was a busi)3 ness subject to the state’s anti-discrimina)&4 tion law.

      Timothy Curran filed the lawsuit in 1981 )6 after his application to become a scoutmasH)7 ter was rejected.)


      Lawyers for the Boy Scouts argued that )9 inclusion of a gay scout leader would not be ): consistent with the group’s longstanding ; views that homosexuality is an “immoral )&< behavior.” )=

      Jon Davidson, a lawyer for the American )> Civil Liberties Union who represented Mr. )? Curran, said that he plans to appeal once )# the decision becomes final.)5

      The judge’s decision makes it “very easyfor businesses to rationalize discriminaL)

      tion,” Mr. Davidson said. A federal district judge late last L) month ordered officials at a Northamp) ton, Mass., high school to allow a black youth who had been banned from at), tending school events to accompany L)7 his white girlfriend to her prom.) The young man, Daryn Hurst, who had )! dropped out of high school but later earned # a high-school equivalency degree, was oneof 11 youths affected by the ban, incurred )! for various prior incidents of misbehavior,said Karen Conklin, the superintendent ofschools.)5

      “He was under a no-trespassing order” )

      • regarding school activities, she said. “It hadnothing to do with the fact that he was a )# dropout or his racial background.”

      Shortly before the prom, held over the ), Memorial Day weekend, District Judge L)= Frank Freedman issued an injunction al). lowing Mr. Hurst to escort Carrie Stone, hisgirlfriend, to the dance.)

      In ruling, the judge cited the fact that theno-trespass order had no expiration date ). and that Ms. Stone would have suffered “irH) reparable harm” if Mr. Hurst were bannedfrom it. No others barred from school eventswere affected by the judge’s act, Ms. ConkH) lin said.

      A version of this article appeared in the June 05, 1991 edition of Education Week as Districts News Roundup