News Updates

March 11, 1992 3 min read

A former top deputy to Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig of California is among several people ordered to appear before state or federal grand juries probing allegations that Mr. Honig violated conflict-of-interest laws by aiding his wife’s consulting firm. (See Education Week, Jan. 8, 1992.)

Jim Smith, a former deputy superintendent, is one of at least five people who have been subpoenaed by the state attorney general’s office to appear before a Sacramento County grand jury, according to a report in the San Francisco Examiner.

A separate federal grand jury in San Francisco has subpoenaed Katherine Brock, an employee of the nonprofit consulting firm that Ms. Honig ran until recently.

Mr. Honig late last month issued a press release in which he appeared to welcome the grand\jury probe.

“When there’s a full investigation, it will be clear that everything I did was perfectly legal,’' Mr. Honig said.

The Texas Department of Health says that case files submitted by a local health worker do not provide enough information to verify her claims that several high-school students in northeast Texas schools are infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

The state agency added, however, that it had not completed its review of the case and may spend several more months checking the authenticity of the health worker’s claims.

National media attention has been focused on several communities near the Arkansas border since Dona G. Spence, a counselor for a regional agency called the Ark-Tex Council of Governments, revealed that 6 of 197 students in one high school and several others in other schools had tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus. (See Education Week, Feb. 26, 1992.)

Ms. Spence has since resigned from her job. She told several publications that she was forced into hiding by death threats that followed attacks by local officials and the media on her credibility.

The state health department reported that Ms. Spence’s files do indicate that she was working with 13 students in a nine-county area who she believed had tested positive for the H.I.V.

But the files contain no medical records, laboratory records, or other information that state officials could use to independently verify her claims, the release said.

Neither, according to the release, do Ms. Spence’s records contain information that links the students to specific schools.

“This does not necessarily mean that the records and claims aren’t genuine,’' said Dr. Charles Bell, a state health-department official who participated in the case review. The health department does know of infected teen-agers in the area in question, he added.

The Boy Scouts of America has formally renewed the charter of a San Jose, Calif., troop that maintains a “statement of conscience’’ that the national Boy Scout policy barring homosexuals is wrong.

Troop No. 260 will abide by Boy Scout rules and has complied with a request from Scout officials that it will “not actively seek to register known or avowed homosexuals,’' said the Rev. Jack Lundin, the pastor of Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in San Jose, which sponsors the troop.

Boy Scout officials last month had threatened not to renew the charter when it expired Feb. 29 because of public statements the troop’s leaders had made against the Boy Scout policy barring homosexual Scouts or Scoutmasters. (See Education Week, Feb. 19, 1992.)

But the troop does not have any reason to seek any leaders because “the leadership corps is full,’' Pastor Lundin said last week.

He said it was “easy to agree’’ to the Boy Scout request.

There are no known homosexuals in the troop now, Pastor Lundin said, and “there’s no desire to actively seek’’ their membership.

Buford Hill, the Boy Scouts’ western regional director, said last week that Boy Scout officials have not backed away from the policy barring homosexuals.

Troop No. 260 has “agreed completely to abide by the standards of the Boy Scouts of America,’' Mr. Hill said.

A Boyd County, Ky., circuit-court judge has upheld the misconduct conviction of Delmis Donta, a former eastern Kentucky school superintendent who resigned his post as he faced ouster by the state school board last year.

Circuit Judge Kelley Asbury found that Mr. Donta was voluntarily absent for his Oct. 29 trial date and charged that the longtime educator had “made a mockery of the judicial system’’ by missing four trial dates.

Mr. Donta, who had postponed earlier court dates for medical reasons, was not able to convince the judge that surgery performed on Oct. 28 in Ohio was necessary. (See Education Week, Oct. 2, 1991.)

Mr. Donta continued to maintain his innocence following last month’s ruling, and said he is considering an appeal.

A version of this article appeared in the March 11, 1992 edition of Education Week as News Updates