News Updates

October 03, 1984 4 min read

A $10-million lawsuit filed in June by the parents of a Virginia teen-ager who commited suicide after playing the fantasy game “Dungeons and Dragons” has been dismissed.

The Arlington County, Va., school board had unanimously voted to end its endorsement of the game last year after the family filed a separate $1-million lawsuit against the principal of their son’s school, where the youth had been playing the game. (See Education Week, Aug. 31, 1983.)

In the $10-million lawsuit filed this year, the family of Irving Lee Pulling 2nd claimed that the Patrick Henry High School junior shot himself in the chest June 9, 1982, after a “curse” was placed on him by a teacher who was a player in the game.

The family had claimed that the fantasy game, which requires players to take on the roles of mythical characters, was being used in the school’s gifted and talented program.

Hanover Circuit Court Judge Richard H.C. Taylor dismissed the $10-million suit against two teachers, the game’s manufacturer, and the game’s inventor, after finding that the suit had failed to state a valid legal claim under Virginia law. He had previously dismissed the $1-million lawsuit.

Peter W.D. Wright, the family’s lawyer, said the $1-million lawsuit is on appeal. The family, he said, may also appeal the judge’s ruling on the $10-million lawsuit.

The Los Angeles School Board has voted to oppose two education-related initiatives that are on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Proposition 37 would amend the state constitution to allow a lottery that would earmark 34 percent of all money for education. (See Education Week, Aug. 22, 1984.) If passed, the measure would make California the 18th state with a lottery.

Rita Walters, who introduced the board resolution opposing Proposition 37, said the lottery would not be a stable source of income.

Backers of the initiative say the lottery could return $700 million to schools the first year, but Ms. Walters said legislative analysts believe the figure is closer to between $300 and $500 million.

The second measure opposed by the board--Proposition 36--would offer a rebate for some property owners and is intended to clarify Proposition 13, the controversial property-tax-reduction measure passed by voters in 1978.

The measure, which was introduced by Howard Jarvis, author of Proposition 13, proposes a rebate on some property taxes, and requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature or local government to increase taxes and two-thirds approval by voters to pass any bond issue.

“Proposition 36 does not affect education directly and it does not affect the state directly, but it does affect the local governments directly,” said John Greenwood, board president. “When the local governments run into money trouble, they will then go to the state for help, and the local projects will compete with state projects for the same funds.”

Under a district attendance policy approved last month by the Boise (Idaho) School Board, students who participate in any of approximately 106 cocurricular--school-sponsored--activities are exempt from the statewide 90-percent attendance requirement approved by the Idaho Board of Education last winter. (See Education Week, Nov. 23, 1983.)

The statewide requirement specifies that a student must attend a class at least 90 percent of the time to receive credit, “except in extraordinary cases, as determined by the local board of trustees,” according to Helen J. Williams, a spokesman for the state department of education.

The six junior high schools and three high schools in the 21,594-student Boise district submitted to the board lists of the cocurricular activities they thought should be exempt from the attendance requirement if a student missed more than the allowed number of days, according to Patricia A. Wayland, a spokesman for the district.

“We believed that was a moreel40lclear-cut way of dealing with the problem of how to define extraordinary circumstances,” Ms. Wayland explained. “We needed to have some guidelines.”

Ms. Williams said the state department of education has no official comment on the Boise district policy, but she added, “It’s up to each district to decide how to implement the 90-percent attendance policy. We hope they will enforce it as the state board intended it.”

The longest and largest teacher strike so far this fall has been settled in Rockford, Ill. The strike ended late last month when school administrators and union officials agreed to open classes while the contract dispute continued. Officials also agreed to submit for binding arbitration any issues that were not settled by Oct. 1. (See Education Week, Sept. 12, 1984.)

But while teachers and administrators in Rockford moved toward agreement, other strikes began in the state. Teachers in Orion went out on Sept. 20 and teachers in Abingdon struck on Sept. 24.

In Pennsylvania, teachers in three school districts went out last week. About 500 teachers were on strike in Butler, 109 teachers struck in Beaver, and 141 teachers in Independent Unified School District 27 were on the picket lines last week.

In Michigan, where strike activity usually is heavy, only teachers in Waverly were still out last week.

A version of this article appeared in the October 03, 1984 edition of Education Week as News Updates