District News Roundup

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The superintendent of schools in Essex County, N.J., having admitted to violating the state's conflict-of-interest law, will resign effective Feb. 5.

Howard E. White Jr. was accused last summer by the state Division of Criminal Justice of working for two companies that held nearly $4 million in contracts with the county's Educational Services Commission.

At the time, Mr. White was a member of the commission's board of directors.

Mr. White, who was appointed to the top position in the 136,000-student district by the state board of education, was given a 10-day suspension by the state Executive Commission on Ethical Standards in October when he admitted that he had violated the conflict-of-interest law.

Although he will remain on the state payroll until Feb. 5, Mr. White is on an extended leave of absence. Robert E. Boose has been appointed acting superintendent.

Following a review by a two-member panel, the school board in University City, Mo., has dropped its investigation into allegations that teachers helped students cheat on a statewide basic-skills test. One teacher was fired as a result of the scandal.

The review panel, consisting of a law professor from St. Louis University and an official of the Urban League, was created by the school board in response to allegations that the fired teacher, Teresa Banks, had been used by the board as a "scapegoat." The review panel concluded that testimony on the cheating incident supported the board's disciplinary actions.

But a union official representing Ms. Banks claims that the panel's review of the school board's actions in the scandal was a "whitewash" intended to defend the board from allegations that it unfairly singled out a few teachers for punishment.

David T. Oshige of the Missouri Federation of Teachers said that the board-appointed review panel failed in its recent report to the board to include "important" aspects of the scandal.

These include, Mr. Oshige said, poor test security at Hanley Junior High School, where the cheating allegedly took place last March, and an acknowledgement that the test-coaching was motivated by pressure on teachers from school administrators to raise3student scores on the statewide test.

Ms. Banks, who has sued the board in an attempt to be reinstated, is now teaching in a local parochial school.

The University City board was scheduled to vote last Thursday on measures recommended by the review panel to improve security during administration of the basic-skills test.

The Boston school system has broken tradition and limited its projected budget deficit to an estimated $2.3 million, about $23 million less than last year's deficit, according to the results of a recent city audit.

The school department, normally ranked high among the city's departments in deficit spending, was among6the lowest this year, according to Ian Forman, a spokesman for school Superintendent Robert R. Spillane. He said the projected $2.3-million deficit results from the school committee's refusal to lay off 81 additional teachers as recommended by Mr. Spillane last month.

Last year, the school department overspent its $210.5-million budget by $26 million. Samuel R. Tyler, associate executive director of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, said the city's audit is a good report but the projected deficit is a "conservative estimate." The deficit may be closer to $8 million, he said.

The Boston City Council, apparently pleased by the improved financial management of the school system, approved a $10,000 salary increase for Mr. Spillane, retroactive to Aug. 2. It will boost his yearly salary to $60,000.

Vol. 01, Issue 15

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