People News

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Irwin Russo, a film producer whose credits include such box-office hits as Teachers and Trading Places, has forsaken the silver screen for a life in the classroom.

"I found that Hollywood was the glamorous girlfriend, but that teaching was the woman I had married," said Mr. Russo, who is teaching college-bound students this fall at the Newbridge School, a private school in Los Angeles.

The former filmmaker taught English for nine years in the Long Island, N.Y., public schools before moving to Hollywood in 1978. He made the move, he said, at the insistence of his brother, Aaron, who was the singer Bette Midler's agent at the time. But, all the while, his first love kept calling.

"Nobody wants to give up the beautiful5p6life," Mr. Russo said last week of his career change. "But there are certain things that fill the soul."

When Willie W. Herenton, superintendent of the Memphis City Schools, announced on Oct. 12 that he would be leaving the city to take the helm of the Atlanta school system, calls and letters began pouring into his office "begging him to stay in Memphis," a district spokesman said last week.

The pleas had an impact. Three days later, the 47-year-old Mr. Herenton, who has worked in the Memphis school system for 25 years, the last nine as its superintendent, called a press conference to announce he had changed his mind and would remain in his current job.

School officials in both cities said that Mr. Herenton's decision was based on "the local outcry," and had nothing to do with the terms of the Atlanta contract.

Atlanta is searching for a replacement for Alonzo A. Crim, who will end his 15-year career as superintendent of the city's schools in June.

Thus far, the school system has received 54 applications, "some from the best superintendents in the country," said June Cofer Pilgrim, vice president of the Atlanta board of education and chairman of the search committee. Mr. Herenton, she said, was the first candidate to be offered the job.

A Dallas man who was declared the owner of a disputed piece of land on which an elementary school is located padlocked the doors of the building and piled up hay at its entrances this month to prevent the Dallas Independent School District from using it.

Cameron Dee Sewell, a Dallas lawyer, barricaded the Rylie Elementary School to protect himself from the liability risk that children or school personnel on his property would pose, according to his lawyer. He said Mr. Sewell would reopen the building when the district had obtained insurance for it.

The school was not in use at the time of the incident, but the district had planned to begin holding classes there to relieve overcrowding at another school.

School officials had long assumed that the district owned the land, but Mr. Sewell pursued a claim to it that was upheld by the Texas Supreme Court this month.

Ben W. Niedecken, a lawyer for the district, said last week that the district had obtained insurance for the building and had offered to buy the land. If Mr. Sewell refuses the offer, he said, the district may seek the property through condemnation proceedings.

Voicing frustration with the New York City school system's lack of progress in reducing truancy among its estimated 7,500 students who live in temporary housing, Jill F. Blair last week quit as the district's ombudsman for homeless children.

Ms. Blair, who was appointed to the newly created post in March by Schools Chancellor Nathan Quinones, charged that the school system had not worked well with other city agencies in addressing the problem. She also said she felt constrained by having little control over the district's $5.5-million program for homeless students.

"You just can't make any headway," Ms. Blair said. "The whole program is doomed to failure unless the board and [other agencies] learn how to work as partners." She said she had accepted a position as program officer at the New York Foundation and would continue to speak out on the needs of the homeless.

A spokesman for the school system declined last week to comment on Ms. Blair's charges.

Vol. 07, Issue 08

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories