District News Roundup
Philadelphia needs to implement public-education programs to ease tensions between new Asian immigrants and their neighbors in order to "stop racial polarization in its infancy," according to a report by the city's human-relations commission.
The report was based in part on testimony at four public hearings held last October after reported tensions involving Asian residents, said Leah Gaskin White, executive director of the commission.
According to Jack Fingerman, information officer for the commission, the report recommends that the city develop a public-service advertising campaign to dispel myths about new immigrants; expand communications between churches in urban communities; hire bilingual teachers and counselors to help school-age children adjust to a new society; and implement a cooperative crime-watch program.
The commission consulted officials from Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco to gather information on how those cities are dealing with similar issues.
The report will be submitted to the mayor's office for further action, Mr. Fingerman said.
The superintendent of the Boone County, W.Va., schools last week denied charges by parents of students at a local junior high school that school officials unreasonably delayed releasing news about asbestos contamination in the school.
Whitesville Junior High School has been closed since Oct. 7, when workmen repairing the school furnace discovered what appeared to be asbestos material in the furnace's caulking. Parents were not notified that the material actually was asbestos until five days later, on Oct. 11. Notices were posted at the school on Oct. 10.
"I know there were some parents saying that we were trying to keep them in the dark," said Kenneth Mabe, superintendent of schools, "but that is simply not true."
The company doing the furnace repair initially told him that the suspect material probably was not asbestos, Mr. Mabe said. A laboratory check by an outside contractor did not verify that the material was asbestos until Oct. 9, he said, and parents were told about the problem as soon as possible.
The material--which amounted el10lto about one pint of asbestos--was removed and further tests were conducted. According to Mr. Mabe, the last test found only ash, soot, and pollen in the air around the furnace; a final inspection by the state health department is now under way.
Mr. Mabe said he hoped to have the school reopened by late last week.
Nearly 150 of the 284 community-school-board members in New York City may be removed from office for failing to file financial-disclosure forms.
Schools Chancellor Nathan Quinones announced this month that he had contacted Robert Abrams, the state attorney general, and Frederick A.O. Schwartz, the city's corporation counsel, to discuss legal steps necessary to remove the board members from office.
A 1975 New York State education law requiring community-school4board members to file financial-disclosure forms has never before been enforced in the city, according to Robert Terte, a spokesman for the public schools. The law requires both board members and their spouses to fill out disclosure forms.
Philip Kaplan, president of the New York City School Boards Association, said his group would prefer that the financial-disclosure requirement go into effect following next year's school-board elections, set for May 6.
Last April, the association lost a court action to prevent the New York City Board of Education from enforcing the requirement.
The Alexandria, Va., board of education is considering whether to impose restrictions on fundraising activities by parent-teacher groups for district elementary schools, following reports that some schools have received air-conditioners,8video-cassette recorders, and personal computers from their local pta's.
The board is expected to discuss a resolution at its November meeting that would prohibit schools from encouraging students to participate in door-to-door sales activities.
Parents and students at the district's Patrick Henry Elementary School raised $5,000 through pta sales drives last year, according to a board spokesman. The group purchased a color television set, a video-cassette recorder, and a microwave oven for the school with the funds, she said.
At their meeting this month, school-board members expressed concern that schools had accepted donations of materials from the pta instead of making district officials aware of their needs. A freeze on capital expenditures in last year's district budget exacerbated school-supply needs, pta officials suggested.
Board members and school officials also suggested that pta donations could lead to unequal educational opportunities among district schools.