News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

May 05, 2004 2 min read

Justices Decline Appeal On District Damages

The U.S. Supreme Court last week let stand a lower-court decision finding that Arizona school districts could be sued for damages in federal court, in a case brought by an employee who claimed she was fired for objecting to district requests that she affix a flagpole to her wheelchair to make her more visible to students.

In a case of great interest to districts statewide, the Glendale Unified High District had asked the justices to reverse a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit holding that Arizona’s school districts are not arms of the state and thus not immune from such lawsuits.

A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based circuit court held in September that Shelley Savage, a former aide in a high school computer lab, could go ahead with her lawsuit. Ms. Savage contends that the 14,000-student Phoenix-area district violated federal and state disability-rights laws. (“Court Takes Ariz. Tax-Credit Case,” Oct. 8, 2003.)

Finding that Arizona’s school districts were controlled locally, the appeals court rejected the district’s claim that it was entitled to immunity granted to states under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

On April 26, the high court declined without comment to take up Glendale Unified High School District No. 205 v. Savage (Case No. 03- 1052).

—Caroline Hendrie

Department Picks 11 Sites For Reading Program

Like lemonade and sprinklers, a flurry of announcements about summer reading programs is heralding the approaching out-of-school months.

The Department of Education has announced 11 sites across the country that will participate in the No Child Left Behind Act’s Summer Reading Achievers program. Last year, the Atlanta school district was the first site designated to use the program, which has now been expanded, according to the department.

In addition to Atlanta, the places chosen for this year’s program are: Albuquerque, N.M.; Camden, N.J.; Gainesville, Fla.; Kansas City, Kan.; Minneapolis; Pittsburgh; Portsmouth, N.H.; San Diego; Springfield, Mass.; and the state of South Dakota.

To take part, students in grades K-8 must read 10 or more books over the summer and fill out paperwork about what they learned from each book. Successful students will earn prizes and certificates, and local workshops and celebrations will be scheduled. Sponsors include First Book, a Washington- based nonprofit organization that seeks to provide poor children with new books, which will provide books for the programs; Target Stores; and USA Football, a Vienna, Va.-based group that promotes amateur football.

The program is designed to encourage students to read during the summer months to avoid the loss of reading skills. (“Reading Books Is Found to Ward off ‘Summer Slump’,” this issue.) Much of the cost is paid for by sponsors, according to the Education Department.

—Michelle R. Davis