District News Roundup
A high-school principal in Gallup, N.M., has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of his superintendent.
Osmond C. Fero, principal of Tohatchi High School, was arraigned last week in state court for the murder of Gallup-McKinley County School Superintendent Paul Hanson. At the arraignment, Mr. Fero declined to enter a plea so the court entered a plea of not guilty for him, District Attorney Robert A. Aragon said.
The shooting occurred during an employee evaluation of Mr. Fero in the superintendent's office, according to Wendell E. Hendrickson, the district's assistant superintendent for personnel. He said school officials do not know what transpired in the office, but that Mr. Fero knew that the superintendent was concerned about the quality of his work.
Mr. Fero gave a statement to the police after the shooting, according to Frank Gonzales, Gallup chief of police, but neither Mr. Gonzales nor Mr. Aragon would comment on the statement's contents. A court hearing was scheduled for March 6.
A $195.5-million bond measure approved by Dallas voters last month will enable the district to renovate its nearly 200 schools and build 14 new ones.
The school-bond measure, the first in eight years, was overwhelmingly approved by the voters, with 28,954, or 65.2 percent, voting in favor and only 15,369, or 34.8 percent, against.
The bond measure provides mon-ey for 568 new classrooms, asbestos removal, and the installation of smoke detectors and fire alarms.
"The citizens of Dallas have never turned down a bond issue for schools," a district spokesman said in explaining the measure's wide approval margin. "People wanted more things in their schools," he added.
A homeless Port Chester, N.Y., woman has filed suit in federal district court claiming that she was denied due process when the local school district barred her children from its schools. The woman and her two children were placed in a hotel outside the town after their apartment was deemed unsafe.
Jerrold M. Levy, a lawyer with Westchester Legal Services, filed the suit on behalf of Mary Richards and also appealed the school district's decision to Gordon M. Ambach, New York's commissioner of education. He asked Mr. Ambach to clarify where homeless children such as Ms. Richards's should be educated.
According to Harry H. Mix, Port Chester's superintendent of schools, a school district is obligated only to educate students residing within its boundaries. "We have abided by this policy forever," Mr. Mix said.
But the policy can create problems for homeless families, which numbered more than 2,500 in Westchester County last year, Mr. Levy said. The Richardses, who are on welfare and trying to find suitable housing in Port Chester, have lived in six hotels in five different school districts since September, Mr. Levy said.
In the suit, Mr. Levy has asked for $275,000 in damages, claiming that the Richardses were not given a hearing before the children were excluded and were not advised of their right to appeal the decision.
Pinellas County, Fla., school officials say they plan to negotiate with a group of black parents and representatives of a major civil-rights group to seek modifications to a federal-court order that would require the busing next year of 10 black high-school students to a new school about 10 miles from their homes.
According to Joseph Carwise, the district's assistant superintendent for pupil assignment, the parents of the black students and other representatives of Safety Harbor's black community have protested the school board's decision to reassign the students to Tarpon Springs High School to comply with court-ordered desegregation guidelines. According to those rules, the percentage of minority students enrolled in each of the district's schools must be at least one-half of the percentage of minority students enrolled in the attendance zones in which the schools are located.
"We are anxious to sit down and see if we can get an agreement to modify the percent requirement or perhaps set maximum mileages so we could restrict the busing of minority students," Mr. Carwise said.
According to press reports, representatives of the naacp Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the original plaintiff in the 14-year-old desegregation suit, say they are ready to negotiate but will ask the school board to accept modifications to the plan that it has rejected in the past. According to the reports, the modifications would require the additional busing of white students from the northern part of the district, which is predominantly white, to schools in the southern part of the district.
Vol. 04, Issue 24