News in Brief: A National Roundup

January 20, 1999 5 min read

Kan. Principal Convicted For Not Reporting Abuse

A Melvern, Kan., principal has been convicted of a misdemeanor for failing to report the abuse of a kindergarten student to state officials.

Michael Dougherty, the principal of the 205-student Marais des Cygnes Valley elementary and high school, was found guilty this month. The charge stemmed from an incident in October in which a teaching assistant and a teacher noticed that a 5-year-old pupil had a bruised cheek and scratches on her neck.

After they brought the girl to Mr. Dougherty to decide how to proceed, the three decided there was insufficient evidence to warrant filing a report with the authorities, according to Superintendent C.B. Harris.

Police were later called to the girl’s home in a separate incident and arrested her mother after noticing the girl’s bruises, Mr. Harris said. The mother later pleaded guilty to aggravated battery against her daughter. As a result of that investigation, charges were filed against Mr. Dougherty for not reporting the girl’s injuries.

Mr. Dougherty, who is represented by district lawyers, faces up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. The 290-student Unified School District No. 456 plans to appeal his conviction.

--Karen L. Abercrombie

Computer Blamed for Scores

CTB /McGraw-Hill has blamed a computer glitch for its release of the wrong scores on part of a standardized test given to Indiana students.

The problem affected all reading-comprehension scores in one section of Indiana’s state testing program. The tests were given at the beginning of this school year to 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 10th graders.

Officials in several districts, who are given about a week to review the scores and report any problems, discovered the Monterey, Calif., company’s error after noticing that scores for the reading-comprehension section were surprisingly low.

The public release of test scores could be delayed by as much as two weeks, said Stu Huffman, a spokesman for the Indiana education department. The scores had been scheduled for release the first week of February.

--Mary Ann Zehr

Dr Pepper Sues Principals

Cola wars in the schools have moved to the courtroom. The Dr Pepper Bottling Co. of Dallas has sued principals in Conroe, Texas, after the district awarded an exclusive soda deal to the Coca-Cola Co.

The 32,000-student Conroe district struck a $7.8 million, 10-year deal with Coke last September. But three schools in the district had entered into separate agreements with Dr Pepper in recent years in exchange for scoreboards or a school marquee. Dr Pepper bid on the districtwide contract, but after losing to Coke, it sued the three principals for breach of contract, saying the scoreboards and marquee were worth a total of $40,000.

Carrie Galatas, the general counsel for the district, said the principals had no authority to enter into the separate agreements with Dr Pepper, and thus, those contracts were void. But the district offered partial reimbursement for the scoreboards and marquee, which Dr Pepper rejected, she said.

Dr Pepper declined to return telephone calls late last week.

--Mark Walsh

Youths Protest Student Beating

Disruptions continued last week outside Englewood High School near Denver where some 15 students picketed to protest the alleged beating of a schoolmate by security guards earlier this month.

An Englewood police report, however, describes conflicting versions of the Jan. 7 incident that led to last week’s protest.

A 16-year-old student told police that, after being searched in the vice principal’s office by security guards who suspected him of using marijuana, the two men banged his head on the floor.

The guards, who have been put on administrative leave, say that after a suspected marijuana cigarette was found in the youth’s wallet, the student became disorderly and “had to be taken to the floor.”

Jim Ulrich, a spokesman for the police, said that the student would likely be charged with disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana.

--Robert C. Johnston

Two Die in Murder-Suicide Pact

A teenage couple who were prohibited from seeing each other outside of school carried out a suicide pact in a Georgia school restroom with a .22-caliber pistol taken from the girl’s home.

Jeff Miller, 17, and Andrea Garrett, 15, were injured Jan. 8 at Central High School in Carrollton and discovered by a janitor during first-period classes, said Carroll County Sheriff Tony Reeves.

The teenagers later died at separate hospitals.

Mr. Reeves said he believes that the incident had been planned for some time, and that both students intended to die in the shootings. The incident remains under investigation.

Mr. Reeves said that Ms. Garrett’s parents had prohibited her from seeing Mr. Miller and that school counselors had been asked to intervene in the relationship.

--Julie Blair

Ohio Ex-Principal Pardoned

A former Cleveland principal has received a full pardon for two criminal convictions that occurred nearly two decades ago. But the state board of education is taking action that could lead to the revocation of the administrator’s license.

George V. Voinovich

On the unanimous recommendation of the Ohio Adult Parole Authority, outgoing Gov. George V. Voinovich, who is now a U.S. senator, last month pardoned Terry L. Butler, the former principal of Cleveland’s East Tech High School, for a 1981 conviction for forging a drug prescription and a 1980 conviction for domestic violence.

Mr. Butler has been on administrative leave with pay from the Cleveland schools since last April, when officials learned of the convictions, which Mr. Butler had failed to reveal on his employment applications.

Mr. Butler, 51, was scheduled to argue his case before a state hearing officer late last week.

The officer can then recommend that the state board suspend or revoke his license, or take no action.

Mr. Butler could not be reached for comment.

--Kerry A. White


Carl Elliott

Carl Elliott, an Alabama congressman who bucked the segregationist leadership of Gov. George C. Wallace and crafted a law to increase access to higher education, died Jan. 9 in Jasper, Ala. He was 85.

Mr. Elliott, a Democrat who served in the U.S. House from 1948 to 1964, wrote the National Defense Education Act, a 1958 federal law that made a college education more accessible regardless of race or economic status.

He was defeated for renomination in a 1964 primary.

In 1990, Mr. Elliott won the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award. The award, named after the late president’s 1957 book about U.S. politicians who risked their careers fighting for just but unpopular causes, honors public servants who have shown courage in their beliefs.

--Anjetta Mcqueen

A version of this article appeared in the January 20, 1999 edition of Education Week as News in Brief: A National Roundup