Districts News Roundup

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A suburban Denver school district has added a full year of computer science as a graduation requirement, beginning with students who enter either of two three-year high schools in the fall.

Ali Joseph, superintendent of the 12,000-pupil Westminster School District, said that as a result of the local school board's action, he believes his will be "one of the first--if not the first"--school districts in the country to require computer training for high-school graduation.

Because Colorado is what Mr. Joseph termed "pleasantly notorious for local control," it was possible for Westminster school officials to add courses in computer science, mathematics and science, and both the fine and practical arts to existing high-school graduation requirements without violating state law.

Mr. Joseph said the district will also begin offering courses for parents, "so we can avoid the modern mathematics syndrome" in which parents cannot understand what their children are being taught.

Voters in Jackson, Miss., have rejected a $42-million bond issue that would have upgraded physical facilities for the city's public schools. About 52 percent of those who cast ballots last week favored the proposal, but it needed 60-percent approval to pass. The totals showed that 15,610 voted in favor of the measure, and 14,399 opposed it.

Renovation of existing school buildings had been described as a critical need. School officials offered no clear plans on how to provide for school renovations after the bond measure was defeated.

"Basically, I think it failed because people were scared of a tax increase," said Rowan Taylor, chairman of the Jackson Board of Education.

A judge in Nebraska, in turning down requests for a lighter sentence, has sent a 17-year-old to the state penitentiary and told him that he must earn a high-school diploma before he is released.

Richard Dobesh pleaded guilty last month in Dodge County District Court to one felony count of burglary after being charged with attempting to sell equipment stolen from a karate school in Fremont.

A probation officer and Mr. Dobesh's lawyer had requested that Mr. Dobesh be sent to the Youth Development Center in Kearney. But the judge rejected their request and sentenced him to spend 18 months to three years at the Nebraska Penal and Correctional Complex in Lincoln.

The sentence could turn out to be open-ended, a spokesman for Judge Mark Furhman said, if Mr. Dobesh does not earn a high-school equivalency degree. The judge set that goal, the spokesman said, because Mr. Dobesh showed a need for a "structured environment" and a better education.

Representative Harold Washington, a member of the Education and Labor Committee of the U.S House of Representatives, last week won the Democratic mayoralty race in Chicago.

If Mr. Washington--who won the nomination by a small margin--wins the general election, he would become the first black mayor of the nation's second-largest city.

The 60-year-old Representative, who began serving his second term in the House this year, defeated the current mayor, Jane M. Byrne, and the Cook County state's attorney, Richard M. Daley.

A student injured in a 1980 playground accident will receive health-care payments for the rest of her life under an out-of-court settlement with the Tuscon, Ariz., Unified School District.

In a suit filed on behalf of Lisa Monjer in Pima County Superior Court, Sherrilyn Cotner, the child's mother, charged the school with negligence in treating the child after she fell from a high bar during physical-education class.

The district has already paid the former elementary-school student $200,000 as part of the settlement, reached last December. She will receive monthly payments for the rest of her life and larger payments at times in which she needs additional care for the injuries.

The district put from $400,000 to $500,000 into an annuity fund, which will be used to make the payments, said Thomas Murphy, the district's lawyer.

The payments to Ms. Monjer could reach $3.2 million over her lifetime, Mr. Murphy said.

Ms. Cotner said that her daughter has had four hip operations and might require another operation soon to replace an artificial hip joint. The student missed one semester of classes because of the injury.

The Grand Rapids, Mich., board of education has aroused the anger of religious and black community leaders because of its recent decision to fire the school superintendent, John Dow, by March 1.

The school board's decision was criticized during a rally called last month by the Inter-Denominational Ministerial Alliance of Grand Rapids and Vicinity, a coalition of religious leaders, whose main speaker was the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The group believes that Mr. Dow's firing was racially motivated, according John V. Williams, who heads the alliance's education committee. Mr. Dow is one of the nation's relatively few black superin-tendents. David Doyle, spokesman for the school system, said that the action taken by the school board leaves many questions unanswered because Mr. Dow had renegotiated a new contract that does not expire until 1986.

He said the superintendent's current contract does not expire until 1984.

Lawyers for the school board and the superintendent are negotiating the contract issues, but according to Mr. Doyle, the question remains as to which contract is in force.

"There is a perception in the community that there is racism involved," said Mr. Doyle. "Whether it's right or wrong, that perception should be dealt with [by the school board]," he added.

The board has not, however, scheduled a meeting to make a determination on Mr. Dow's employment status, according to Mr. Doyle.

Vol. 02, Issue 23

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