News Update

April 01, 1987 2 min read

James A. Connelly, superintendent of schools in Bridgeport, Conn., has said he plans to ask the school board to adopt a policy enabling school administrators to search lockers if they suspect that students are carrying weapons.

Mr. Connelly’s proposal follows the apprehension of two more Bridgeport students who had brought handguns into school, bringing to six the number of students caught this year with guns on school property in that city. (See Education Week, March 25, 1987.)

After the latest incidents, which involved a 13- and a 14-year-old student, city officials met with an official from the U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice to discuss ways to address the problem, Mr. Connelly said.

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction barring New York State from making a $100,000 grant to the Franciscan Academy, a Roman Catholic girls school in Syracuse, pending his final decision in the case.

The grant--a “member item,’' or special, unrestricted appropriation inserted into the current state budget by two state lawmkers last year--was challenged in a class-action suit filed by members of the lobbying group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Their complaint argues that such a grant would directly benefit the school’s religious mission, in violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause.

In his preliminary ruling, however, U.S. District Judge Con. G. Cholakis did not issue a more sweeping injunction to halt payment of all such member-item grants to sectarian elementary and secondary schools, as the lobbying group had requested, according to Paul D. Silver, an assistant state attorney general.

In February, when the class action was filed, U.S. District Judge Neal G. McCurn issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the state from making the grant to the Catholic academy and “any similar member-item grants to sectarian educational elementary and secondary schools in New York’’ until Judge Cholakis could address the issue. (See Education Week, Feb. 25, 1987.)

U.S. District Judge W. Brevard Hand has rejected the Alabama State Board of Education’s request that he set aside his March 4 order banning 44 textbooks he had ruled promoted a religion of secular humanism. (See Education Week, March 11, 1987.)

The judge refused to stay the order on March 23, saying that lawyers for the state board were “playing games’’ by accusing the court of censorship. The board last week asked a federal appeals court to reverse the judge’s ruling.

The four Bergenfield, N.J., teen-agers who killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact last month were coming down from a cocaine high when they locked themselves in a garage and breathed carbon monoxide from an idling car, Larry McClure, the Bergen County prosecutor, said last week.

The teen-agers--two sisters and two young men--died on March 11 of carbon-monoxide poisoning. (See Education Week, March 18, 1986.)

A version of this article appeared in the April 01, 1987 edition of Education Week as News Update