Districts News Roundup
j// The president of the Seattle school board has been defeated in a primary election by a candidate who favors eliminating the district's self-imposed mandatory-busing plan.
Other anti-busing candidates also fared well in the primary, which narrowed the field of candidates for the four open seats on the district's seven-member board.
The primary results this month set thefor a general election in November that observers say is likely to determine the future of busing as a means of promoting racial integration in the Seattle schools. Since the district's desegregation effort has never come under court supervision, the school board has unusual freedom to amend the plan.
For the past year, school officials, seeking to accommodate changing demographics in the district, have been conducting the first comprehensive review of the plan since it was adopted in 1977.
A citizens' advisory committee earlier this year recommended that the district adopt a "controlled choice" student-assignment plan that would rely primarily on voluntary busing but still include provisions for mandatory busing to ensure racial balance.
U.S. District Judge Henry Woods has ordered the citizens' committee he appointed to oversee implementation of a desegregation plan in Little Rock, Ark., to play a more direct role in ensuring that district schools meet racial-balance quotas.
Under the desegregation plan approved earlier this year, no school's black enrollment was to exceed 80 percent of the total. But seven schools opened this fall without meeting the target.
Judge Woods has directed the three-member citizens' committee and its legal counsel, Hillary R. Clinton, wife of Gov. Bill Clinton, to set up an office in the federal courthouse in Little Rock and find a way to ensure that all schools are racially balanced.
In addition to recommending changes in the district's "controlled choice" student-assignment plan, the committee is to develop ways of attracting more white students to magnet schools, which have empty seats despite waiting lists of black students wishing to enter.
Judge Woods vented his frustration with the case near the end of a long day of hearings this month, saying: "I'm sick and tired of this case. I'm sick and tired of misinformation I've gotten. ... I'm sick and tired of my orders being flouted, and I'm going to try this approach."
An announced boycott of the Illinois lottery aimed at winning a larger share of the proceeds for the Chicago schools has had little effect on ticket sales thus far, a state lottery official said last week. In fact, sales were up slightly during the first week of the boycott, according to Sharon Sharp, state lottery director.
At issue in the protest, organized by a group of Chicago aldermen, is the state formula for allocating profits from the game. The organizers argue that a "fair" distribution of the proceeds--with Chicago receiving a share proportionate to its ticket sales--would give the district a surge of6new revenue that could help resolve a bitter, three-week-old teacher strike.
Approximately 40 percent of the Illinois lottery tickets sold are purchased in Chicago, but the city's schools receive only 32 percent of the $550 million the lottery generates for the state's common school fund.
The aldermen have urged Chicago residents to refrain from purchasing tickets, asked businesses to stop selling them, and sought an end to broadcasts of the winning numbers.
Two Foster, R.I., high-school athletes who refused to sign an anti-drug-abuse pledge have filed suit in federal court, contending that the school violated their First Amendment rights.
But lawyers for the students said last week that the suit would probably be dropped after school officials sign an order confirming that they will not penalize those who do not sign the pledge. The pledge is part of the school's drug-abuse-prevention program.
Zachary Lyman, a senior at Ponagansett High School, his sister, Alexis, a junior, and their parents refused to sign the statement, which noted that "drinking alcoholic beverages, or using marijuana or narcotics is detrimental" to the well-being of athletes.
"Freedom of speech means the right to speak, and also the right to remain silent," said Stephen Fortunato Jr., a civil-liberties lawyer who represented the Lymans.
But Richard Oswald, the school's principal, said the fact that the Lymans had continued to play soccer despite refusing to sign the statement proved that the pledge was voluntary. Rather than take their case to court, he added, the students should have addressed their concerns to officials at the school. "I wish they had gone to us first," he said.
A plan by Montevideo, Minn., school officials to save money by combining a new high-school gymnasium with a National Guard armory has encountered unexpected opposition.
Under the plan, the federal government would pay for the $1-million building, which would also serve as a city exhibition hall. But some local residents argue that the military presence in a school facility would be inappropriate, and say they fear that firearms would be stored in the building. About 100 people attended a school-board meeting this month to discuss the plan.
In addition, state education officials have expressed concern over the district's intention to transfer to the National Guard the parcel of land on which the facility would be built. The education department must approve the plan before it can proceed.
More town meetings may be held on the proposal, school officials said last week.
Vol. 07, Issue 04