News in Brief: A National Roundup

October 10, 2001 6 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Judge Orders Reinstatement
Of N.Y.C. District Leader

A New York state judge has ordered the reinstatement of a former New York City district superintendent in a case that hinged partly on the miscalculation of student test scores.

Robert E. Riccobono was one of five superintendents of community school districts fired in July 1999 by then-Chancellor Rudolph F. Crew because their schools showed low academic achievement. But state school officials later learned that reading scores in District 19 in Brooklyn had in fact risen.

Judge John G. Connor ruled in Mr. Riccobono’s favor on Sept. 22. That decision upholds one by state Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills, who ruled last fall that the New York City board of education must reinstate Mr. Riccobono with back pay and benefits. Neither decision specifies the job to which Mr. Riccobono must be allowed to return.

“The respondent has a protected property interest in his employment, and the chancellor’s authority to dismiss the superintendent was subject to the requirements of due process,” Judge Connor wrote.

Lawyers for the board argued that Mr. Riccobono’s overall performance was unsatisfactory.

A spokeswoman for the board, Margie Feinberg, had no comment on the judge’s ruling. Mr. Riccobono was unavailable for comment.

—Mark Stricherz

Hispanics Unhappy With Map
Approved by Dallas Board

Dallas school board members last week approved a new map for school board elections that failed to add a third district with a Hispanic majority, prompting protests from Hispanic activists.

“We want a map that allows Latinos to participate fully in the electoral process,” said Rafael M. Anchia, the only Hispanic on the nine-member board. The vote on the new map was 5-4.

Mr. Anchia had advocated adding a third Hispanic-majority district to the two existing ones. Mr. Anchia voted against the new map, which he characterized as maintaining the status quo.

The Dallas board was required by federal law to come up with a new voting map based on the 2000 U.S. Census. More than half the 164,000 students in the Dallas Independent School District are Hispanic. The other board members are African-American or non-Hispanic white.

Ken Zornes, the chairman of the school board, said the new map recasts boundaries of voting regions so that no one district has 10 percent more people in it than another, an outcome stipulated by law.

Mr. Zornes supported the addition of a third Hispanic-majority district and also voted against the new map.

—Mary Ann Zehr

27 Buffalo Teachers Face Job Loss
Over Residency Rule

Twenty-seven teachers who work in the Buffalo, N.Y., schools have been given until March to move into the city or risk losing their jobs, an ultimatum that has added fuel to an ongoing debate over the district’s residency rule.

The educators are the first in the system affected by a 1998 district policy that requires teachers to show they live in the city within six months of earning tenure, which generally takes three years to achieve. The policy’s aims were to increase diversity among the system’s teaching ranks, create stronger ties between staff members and students, and stem a declining urban population.

Some board members now worry that the rule inhibits efforts to attract and retain enough qualified teachers, but the board remains split on the issue. Administrators with the 46,000-student district plan to study how the rule has affected recruitment to help the board decide whether to keep or change the policy.

In the meantime, however, the panel last month had administrators notify the noncomplying teachers that they could be terminated. Said board member Jack Coyle: “If it’s on the books, we have to enforce it.”

Local union leaders have vowed to fight any attempt to fire members over the rule.

—Jeff Archer

Broward County Union Head
Resigns After His Arrest

Tony Gentile, the president of Florida’s second-largest local teachers’ union, resigned from his post last week, two months after being arrested on charges of computer pornography.

The Broward Teachers Union’s executive board accepted Mr. Gentile’s resignation during an Oct. 3 meeting. He also agreed to relinquish his union membership and to hold the union legally and financially harmless. The BTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.

Mr. Gentile, who had led the 10,000-member Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based union since 1979, was arrested July 26 and charged with computer pornography and transmission of harmful materials to a minor. He has been on unpaid leave from his position since the arrest and pleaded not guilty to the charges in August.

Patrick A. Santeramo, the union’s vice president, will continue to serve as the interim president through the end of March. Following elections, a new president is slated to take over the union leadership April 1.

—Karla Scoon Reid

Arrests Prompt Okla. School
To Cancel Freshman Football

The freshman football season at Webster High School in Tulsa, Okla., has been canceled following the arrest of two players charged with raping a teammate with a broom handle.

Fourteen students on the freshman football team who were involved in the alleged incident were suspended.

The two 14-year-old students were arrested on complaints of rape by instrumentation after the student was allegedly forced into a locker room and attacked as a form of hazing, according to Wayne Allen, a spokesman for the Tulsa police department.

David Sawyer, the superintendent of the 42,000-student Tulsa public schools, has told teachers, coaches, and principals he will implement a zero-tolerance policy on hazing.

—John Gehring

N.H. School Board Leaves
Association Over Dispute

The 2,900-student Governor Wentworth Regional School District in Wolfeboro Falls, N.H., has dropped its membership this year in the New Hampshire State School Boards Association over the issue of television violence.

The school board decided to cancel its $5,400 membership after the state association again rejected a proposal by the district that would have urged boards throughout the state to provide parent education programs on the effects television violence can have on children.

The district had advocated supporting the Parents Television Council, a 625,000-member nonpartisan group based in Los Angeles that was established in 1995 in an effort to make the public aware of the negative aspects of violent TV shows.

In rejecting the proposal, the state association’s board of directors said it was not the place of districts to make parental choices.

Superintendent John Robertson said the Governor Wentworth school board had no intention of trying to interfere, but just wanted to educate parents.

—Marianne Hurst


Stanley S. Herr, a University of Maryland law professor whose early legal victories helped lead to the adoption of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, died Sept. 24 at his Baltimore home. Mr. Herr, who had battled adrenal-cortical carcinoma, was 56.

Mr. Herr was the lead lawyer in a 1972 case called Mills v. District of Columbia involving a child whom school officials prohibited from attending elementary school because of his disability. In upholding a lower- court ruling permitting him to go to school, the U.S. Supreme Court established the legal principle that all children are entitled to a public education regardless of disability.

Mr. Herr was active in working with the homeless, and this past summer filed a brief with the Supreme Court in a successful effort to forestall the execution of a mentally retarded Texas man.

Raquel Schuster-Herr, his wife, said her husband’s interest in disability rights had family origins. Because his aunt was mentally disabled, she was turned away by U.S. officials at Ellis Island and was returned to Lithuania. She later died in the Holocaust.

—Ben Wear

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP