Districts News Roundup

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San Francisco school officials said last week they will be forced to lay off workers to pay for their share of a comparable-worth settlement reached last month by the city and its civil-service employees.

As part of the settlement, the city will pay $35.4 million over the next two years to more than 8,000 city and county workers concentrated in low-paying jobs. But because eligible school workers will be paid from school, and not city funds, district officials said the required raises for the approximately 3,600 employees affected would cost the system an additional $9 million over the two years.

They said that the system, which faces an $18 million deficit during the next fiscal year, might have to fire as many as 135 workers to pay for the raises. Certificated school employees, such as teachers and most administrators, are not eligible for the pay increases.

City employees who make less than $45,000 and who work in job classifications that are at least 70 percent female or minority are eligible for the raises, which will average 9.5 percent over the next two years.

A New Hampshire school district has been ordered to pay $17,000 for the special education of a former honors student who says she could barely read when she graduated from high school.

The student, Karen Morse, who suffers from dyslexia, claimed in her suit against the district that she had cheated her way to the top of her class at Henniker High School. She was elected class president at the school and gained membership in the National Honor Society.

To prepare for college, Ms. Morse enrolled in special classes at a school for the learning disabled. The Henniker school board paid the tuition for her first year but, after mailing her a diploma, refused to pay for the second year. She then sued district officials for the additional costs.

A state hearing officer on March 3 ruled that the school officials had violated Ms. Morse's rights by deciding to terminate her schooling without holding a special-education hearing, said Paul Kilmister, a consultant to the state education department.

"She had earned her diploma,'' said Jolene Schillinger, chairman of the school board in the town of 3,000. "It was time, in our opinion, for her to get on with her life.''

Ms. Schillinger said the board would decide this month whether to fight the state order.

Now a college freshman, Ms. Morse was diagnosed as dyslectic in the 11th grade. She has said she masked the disorder with a "remarkable memory'' and by cheating.

Three high-school students from Belton, Mo., have asked a federal district judge to bar the enforcement of school-board rules that prevent them from distributing their unofficial student newspaper at their school.

In papers filed with the court last month, the students at Belton Senior High School charge that the board's rules are unconstitutionally vague and impose an unreasonable restraint on student speech protected under the First Amendment.

The dispute bagan last October, when the students placed copies of the first issue of their unsanctioned newspaper in a box near the school library's door. The issue contained articles on a recent "pat down'' search of students by the school's principal; the football team's unsuccessful record that season; and Army recruiting at the school.

According to the student's complaint, Michael St. Louis, the principal, confiscated the issues shortly after they were brought to the school and subsequently destroyed them. At the principal's suggestion, the students met with the district superintendent, who defended Mr. St. Louis's action.

After that meeting, the school board adopted new regulations governing the distribution of student publications not produced as part of the school's instructional program.

According to Karen Schneider, the students' lawyer, the rules give school authorities permission to block the distribution of such publications if they determine that they would "threaten'' to disrupt the school's environment or would constitute an invasion of a student's privacy.

Ms. Schneider said the judge had scheduled a hearing for late last week to consider the students' request for a temporary order restraining the board from enforcing the rules, pending a full hearing on the merits of the case.

Vol. 06, Issue 27

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