Districts News Roundup

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In an effort to provide every "qualified" high-school graduate with a job, business and school leaders in New York City have announced a plan to establish employment offices in the city's public high schools.

The project, called New York Working, is one of two initiatives unveiled Oct. 28 by the New York City School and Business Alliance.

The other initiative, New York Learning, is designed to improve the quality of the city's high schools by providing grants to identify and expand the best academic practices in the school system.

The two projects, which are expected to cost a total of nearly $3 million in the first year, will be funded by grants from the New York State School and Business Alliance, which helps promote local school-business programs throughout the state, and a number of foundations and corporations.

The job-placement project will establish employment offices in six pilot schools by the beginning of the 1988-89 school year. The offices will be staffed by project employees, who will help match graduates with jobs made available by participating businesses in the city's five boroughs.

William S. Woodside, chairman of the executive committee of the Primerica Corporation and co-chairman of the city's school-business alliance, said the goal of the project was to make such employment services available to every high school in the city within five years.

A federal judge in Philadelphia, ruling in favor of a Christian student group, has ordered a Bucks County, Pa., school board to allow a magician whose act includes an evangelical message to perform in a school auditorium.

U.S. District Judge Louis C. Bechtle issued a preliminary injunction ordering the Centennial school district to allow Student Venture, a high-school division of Campus Crusade for Christ, to rent the auditorium at William Tennant High School in Warminster for a Halloween party featuring a performance by the magician.

The judge ruled that a district policy barring rentals to religious groups violated the group's First Amendment rights to free speech. In the Oct. 27 order, he also said the auditorium was a "public forum" and that such a ban therefore violated the federal law on equal access. The ruling also prevented the district from ending auditorium rentals.

The district has appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

To help prevent gang violence from spilling over into schools, the Jackson, Miss., school board has voted to include as grounds for suspending or expelling students "any act committed in the community that adversely affects the school climate."

The district's superintendent of schools, Robert Fortenberry, said the policy change adopted late last month was aimed at minimizing class disruptions and safety risks posed by "neighborhood spats that sometimes come back to the schools."

Gang-related violence on Jackson streets has escalated in the last year, resulting in at least three deaths.

Two high-school students in Midlothian, Tex., have been charged with capital murder in the shooting death of an undercover policeman who was posing as a student to investigate drug sales at the high school.

The policeman, George W. Raffield, 21, was found dead Oct. 24 in a field south of the town, where police allege the two students, ages 17 and 16, lured him under the pretense of a drug deal. He had been shot twice in the back of the head with a .38-caliber revolver.

Wilburn Roesler, principal of Midlothian High School, said last week that he had been unaware of the presence of the undercover officer in the school, although he knew the school board had authorized the practice.

The mayor of Elizabeth, N.J., has charged in a municipal-court complaint that leaders of the local teachers' union violated state law by making "hundreds of obscene and threatening" phone calls to his house during a recent teachers' strike.

Telephone-company records show, Mayor Thomas G. Dunn said, that during one 60-minute period alone he received 25 calls from phone numbers listed to the Elizabeth Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association.

According to Mr. Dunn, many of the 2,000 strikers blamed him for a breakdown in negotiations because he appoints the school board.

Union officials were not available for comment last week. One union official had told a local reporter last month that calls were made to the mayor's house during the month-long strike but denied that they constituted harassment.

The strike ended without a settlement Oct. 5 after a state judge ordered the strikers back to work.

A Bristol, Tenn., parent is protesting the use of a videotape camera to monitor student behavior at a local high school, calling the method "outrageous and humiliating."

In a letter to a local newspaper, Nancy Stepp said that a camera placed inside Tennessee High School had been used to catch six boys, including her son, smoking cigarettes.

The district has recently instituted a no-smoking policy, said William Hallum, the school's principal, who said the surveillance was a "one-shot deal" to enforce the rule. He said he did not intend to use videotaping again "unless it becomes necessary."

According to Ms. Stepp's account, the teen-agers were called into the principal's office and asked if they had been smoking. After answering, they were shown the tape, she said. The boys were restricted to the lunchroom during lunch for the rest of the year, Mr. Hallum said.

High-school football coaches in Los Angeles have been warned by school-district officials to stop the practice of team prayers and moments of silence before games.

The warning came in a memorandum late last month after a survey in the Daily News of Los Angeles found that coaches at 12 out of 17 high schools in the San Fernando Valley acknowledged allowing such practices.

The memo asked high-school administrators to remind coaches that school prayer is banned by the district in order to uphold the constitutional separation of church and state.

The Connecticut Board of Education has directed the commissioner of education to meet with the state attorney general to discuss ways to force the Waterbury school system to implement a school-desegregation plan.

The action late last month came after the Waterbury board of aldermen refused to authorize the issuance of $2.5 million in bonds to finance construction of an integrated school called for in an amended desegregation plan approved by the state in September. The aldermen are expected to take up the issue again this month, according to a spokesman for the state board of education.

Vol. 07, Issue 10

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