District News Roundup

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A security guard employed by the Bibb County, Ga., school district was shot to death on April 22 by a man suspected of trying to sell drugs in a school parking lot.

Euel T. Smith, 35 years old, was shot with his own gun while attempting to investigate complaints about a suspected drug dealer at Central High School in Macon. He was hired by the school board in November 1982 and had previously worked for the Macon police force.

James Louis Patterson, 23, has been charged with murder in the case.

Mr. Smith and another guard had gone to the school in response to student reports that someone was trying to sell drugs in the parking lot of the high school.

The guards arrived at the school in separate cars and found Mr. Patterson, who by that time had left the school grounds.

Grady Gafford, associate superintendent for finance and support services, said that Mr. Patterson had told the two guards that he was at the school to talk to officials about enrolling.

The security guard was shot, according to Mr. Gafford, as he attempted to drive Mr. Patterson to the school to confirm his story.

Thirty-seven students at Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., were recently suspended for 10 days because of a "miniskirt" protest staged by a group of boys at the school.

The protest began with a few students, who temporarily donned miniskirts in protest of a school policy allowing girls to wear miniskirts but forbidding boys to wear shorts. The protest then grew to include more than 60 students--mostly 9th- and 10th-graders--who gathered outside the school on April 23 and defied the principal's order to go back to class, according to Howard Hinesley, the Pinellas County district's executive assistant superintendent.

After three warnings, about 37 protesters remained outside and were suspended for holding "an unauthorized demonstration," Mr. Hinesley said.

All the students appealed the suspensions, according to Mr. Hinesley, and the suspensions were reduced from 10 days to three days.

"It was a media event," Mr. Hinesley said of the publicity that has surrounded the protest. "Even the kids admitted they wanted to be on TV."

The U.S. Department of Labor said last week that its investigators found evidence of irregularities in a recent Washington, D.C., teachers' union election and that it will ask a federal judge to order a new election.

A spokesman for the department said the decision not to certify the election was based on the discovery of "inadvertent errors" in computerized mailing lists, which prohibited candidates from sending their campaign material to all eligible voters, and on interviews with union members whose ballots were counted but who said they did not vote. The irregularities were considered extensive enough to possibly affect the outcome of the election.

William H. Simons, who has been president of the 4,200-member American Federation of Teachers affiliate since 1964, was defeated in the March election. Following the election, the Department of Labor received "several" complaints, which by law it must investigate.

The March election was called by Federal District Judge Aubrey Robinson Jr. who, after a similar investigation by the Department of Labor, voided the union's May, 1981, election, primarily because voting was not conducted by secret ballot.

Judge Robinson will decide if a third election must be held.

The incidence of crime in all categories of major offenses has increased in New York City's elementary schools, after a decline last year, leading officials to consider re-quests for more money to hire security guards.

Assaults against teachers, staff members, and students increased this year by 16 percent in the city's elementary schools, 23 percent in the middle schools, and 27 percent in the high schools, according tostatistics compiled by the city's board of education.

City officials were particularly alarmed at the increase in the number of assaults in the elementary schools. There were 191 between September 1982 and March 1983, compared to 165 for the same period last year.

Angelo J. Aponte, executive director of pupil personnel services, attributed the increase to the inability of part-time guards to repel intruders. The part-time employees, he explained, do not have as much training as the full-time guards assigned to other schools.

Mr. Aponte said the board would ask for $2 million to hire 400 more part-time guards for the elementary schools. The school system now spends $25 million annually for security.

The Shelton, Conn., school board has agreed to extend the school day for graduating seniors in order to meet the state's attendance requirement and to avoid a cutoff of state funds--to the dismay of the seniors.

The board voted last month to add 100 minutes of instructional time each day for high-school seniors to make up for a 120-hour shortfall in the 900-hour minimum set by a recently enacted state law.

That law, which took effect at the beginning of the school year, requires a 180-day school year and specifies 900 hours of instruction, according to Stanley Russell, Shelton's superintendent of schools.

In 1980, the district was forced to lay off 56 teachers, 16 of them from the high school, and to consolidate instructional time into five straight classes. This eliminated study periods and free periods, according to Mr. Russell.

Mr. Russell said that the district began examining its compliance with the attendance law in February and was told that failure to meet the requirement might lead to the forfeiture of state funds.

"We've added on as much as we could for the seniors this year and next year we will lenghten the day to make up for the time the other students have missed," Mr. Russell said.

Gerald N. Tirozzi, New Haven's school superintendent, was named Connecticut's education commissioner last week by the state board of education. He will succeed Mark R. Shedd, who resigned in January.

Mr. Tirozzi said his top concern will be the "urgent need to raise the image of public education." He said his other priorities include retraining principals so they can help improve the performance of teachers, increasing teachers' salaries, ensuring equal opportunity for students and teachers, and improving urban schools.

Mr. Tirozzi began his career in 1962 as a science teacher in New Haven and became superintendent of that district, the state's third largest.

Although the state board conducted a national search for Mr. Shedd's successor, Gov. William A. O'Neill said that he preferred a Connecticut resident for the job.

The state board, rather than the Governor, has the direct responsibility for appointing the education commissioner.

Mr. Tirozzi will begin his $60,562-a-year job this summer.

Michael J. Stolee will resign on June 30, 1984, as dean of the school of education at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Mr. Stolee, a nationally known consultant on desegregation and currently the court-appointed special master for the Benton Harbor, Mich., desegregation case, said he is relinquishing the deanship at the request of several of the school's faculty members.

"We've suffered greatly on enrollment declines and budget cuts, and a number of the faculty felt someone else could deal with these problems more effectively," said Mr. Stolee, who has held the position for nine years. "I hope that's true, but I doubt it." He will stay at the university as a professor of educational administration.

Lionel Brown, principal at Bloom Junior High School in Cincinnati, has been named "America's Toughest Principal" by The Nation-al Enquirer, a weekly tabloid.

The announcement of the award was made in the tabloid's March 8 issue. A photo of Mr. Brown appeared across from an article revealing the actor Paul Newman's intentions to run for President and above a photo of a chimpanzee washing a baby.

"At first I did not think the label 'toughest principal' was a fair assessment, because of the number of principals nationwide, and because I also place a strong emphasis on human relations and sensitivity and love for kids as well as student achievement," said Mr. Brown, who has a firm policy of sending students found lingering in the halls "home to mother" for a few days.

In April 1981, when Mr. Brown took over the job, he says, there were "more trespassers than students" in the school building, "teachers were referred to by their first name and every other name," and "nobody carried books and looked like students."

Since then, he has been credited with turning one of Cincinnati's most disorderly junior-high schools into one of the city's best.

The Los Angeles Unified School District's new policy on extracurricular activities, which allows only students achieving a C average with no F's to participate, is taking its toll. (See Education Week, Nov. 17, 1982.)

At one school, The Los Angeles High School, the policy has barred one half the students in a drama class from participating in this spring's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The band, drill and athletic teams, and after-school clubs have also been affected.

About 1,000 of the 3,000 enrolled students at the school have not maintained a C average, according to the principal, James Ball. Another 400 students have a C average but have received a failing grade in one subject, he said. The policy includes all pupils in grades 4 through 12.

Some students eliminated by the rule are irritated, Mr. Ball said, but most say they think it is fair. "There are very few who couldn't have made the C average, " he added.

In 1979, the researchers Ernest J. Sternglass and Steven Bell predicted that 1982 would bring the first evidence of a reversal of the 19-year decline in Scholastic Aptitude Test scores. They based their prediction on a statistical correlation between the decline of the test scores and the atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs.

Indeed, the 1982 test scores did show slight improvement. In an article published in the April 1983 Phi Delta Kappan, the two researchers offer that rise, as well as further data on both test scores and radioac-tive fallout, to advance their hypothesis a step further.

Mr. Sternglass is a professor of radiological physics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Mr. Bell is an associate professor of education and psychology at Berry College in Georgia.

The two researchers argue that the fallout "acts on the thyroid of the developing fetus in the mother's womb and during infancy, when the thyroid is known to control the development of cognitive functions." One way that the damage may show, they theorize, is through lower test scores.

In 1979, the researchers cited "the temporal geographical patterns of the year-by-year changes in the scores, which closely follow the pattern of nuclear bomb tests some 17 to 18 years earlier."

That pattern has been repeated in new data, which include state-by-state fallout measurements in 1961-62, when atmospheric testing was resumed for one year, and test scores 17 to 18 years later. "We found the strongest correlation between radioactivity in the milk for the years 1961 and 1962--when atmospheric bomb tests were at their highest level--and the verbal sat scores for 1978."

Similar attempts to correlate radioactivity with test scores in other years, when children would have been exposed at a later age, showed no link.

Vol. 02, Issue 32

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