State News Roundup
Educators seeking their first job in California's public schools are expected to receive a reprieve from having to pass a series of tests before school districts can hire them.
Under a bill signed into law last fall by Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., the California Commission for Teacher Preparation and Licensing cannot issue credentials to candidates for teaching and administrative positions after March 1, 1982, if they have not passed basic-skills tests in reading, writing, and computation.
But since the state needs more time to select or develop the tests, a delay in the effective date of the legislation is required. Jayne Madamba, consultant for the Assembly's Subcommittee on Education Reform, said Assemblyman Gary Hart, author of the bill, will submit legislation "in about two weeks" that would set back the starting date to Feb. 28, 1983. Mr. Hart's bill would also require Wilson C. Riles, state superintendent of public instruction, to adopt the tests by Dec. 31, 1982.
To help the state department of education select or develop the tests, Mr. Riles has appointed a 27-member advisory committee. The group, which includes 14 teachers, held its first meeting in San Francisco last month.
With the passage of the law, California became the first state to require new candidates for administrative jobs to pass basic-skills tests. The law also was the first to set minimum levels of competence for classroom aides.
A federal judge has ruled that school officials in Howard County, Md., may, after all, remove from school a severely retarded 10-year-old boy who is a carrier of hepatitis-B.
Paul F. Rhetts, public-information officer for the school district, said the U.S. District Court judge is allowing school authorities to remove the boy from Cedar Lane School, a special-education center, but the child must be provided instruction at home.
The boy was tested and found to be a carrier by state health officials, who said he could remain in school if mea-sures were taken to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
However, in November, school officials notified the boy's parents that he could no longer attend the school after staff members complained through their union. The boy's parents sought and were granted a temporary injunction against his removal.
Mr. Rhetts said school officials are looking for a long-term solution because the boy may need physical and occupational therapy. In the meantime, he will receive instruction at home for six to 10 hours per week.
The West Virginia Supreme Court has sent two "immorality" cases back to their respective school boards because the state's dismissal law, which does allow boards to fire certified employees for immorality, nevertheless provides no definition of immorality.
In one of the cases, a guidance counselor from Harrison County was fired after pleading no-contest to a charge of shoplifting.
The counselor said that she had been distraught at the time of the incident, and inadvertently picked up some merchandise and walked out of a store. She appealed her firing, maintaining that a misdemeanor conviction does not, by itself, constitute immorality.
The court, in a divided opinion, said that "although the state may legitimately look into a teacher's conduct outside the classroom ... nonetheless, the conduct in question must indicate unfitness to teach." The opinion added, "No abstract characterization of the conduct ... as 'immoral' is sufficient."
The second case involved an art teacher of 18 years' tenure in Marion County who thought she was distributing materials to her students that featured Felix the Cat, a cartoon character. Instead of the innocuous Felix, however, the materials starred Fritz the Cat, hero of an animated feature film with an "X" rating. The teacher was fired and appealed the case.
The court sent that one back to the board, too, with the instruction that it should determine whether the teacher acted willfully--and if so, whether that was "sufficient indiscretion" to fire her after 18 years in the classroom.