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An Oregon judge has ruled that state law bars the surviving family of a school official who died in a 1986 climbing accident on Mount Hood from suing the school that sponsored the expedition.

In a preliminary ruling last month, Judge Sid Brockley of Clackamas County Circuit Court ruled that Marion C. Horwell, dean of students of the Oregon Episcopal School, was working in her capacity as a school employee when she helped lead the May 1986 climb that resulted in the death of nine students and staff members. (See Education Week, May 28, 1986.)

Consequently, Judge Brockley ruled, the only legal remedy for her estate is through the state's workman's-compensation law.

The judge also held, however, that because Ralph Summers, a guide on the expedition, was working as an independent contractor when he died on the climb, the workman's-compensation law does not bar his survivors from pursuing a wrongful-death action against the school.

The Portland school is still searching for a director to evaluate and revamp its wilderness-education program, which was suspended in the wake of the climb.

To help curb the use of the controversial drug Ritalin to control the behavior of unruly students, a Georgia task force has called for better teacher training in recognizing and handling pupils with a hyperactivity disorder.

In its report last month, the task force said that while drugs help many such students, an undetermined number suffering from Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder may be better served by simple classroom accommodations, such as being placed at the front of the room or given shorter assignments.

The disorder, which occurs among an estimated 5 to 10 percent of the population, is most often characterized by an inability to concentrate, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity.

State Superintendent of Schools Werner Rogers formed the 13-member task force in response to concerns about the possibleoveruse in Georgia of Ritalin, a stimulant used to treat children with the disorder. (See Education Week, Oct. 21, 1987.) Last year, the state ranked third nationally in per-capita sales of the drug.

The Attorney General of Missouri has appealed a federal-court ruling that imposed an income-tax surcharge and a property-tax increase in Kansas City to help fund desegregation remedies in the district's schools. (See Education Week, Sept. 23, 1987.)

The appeal, which was filed late last month, joins a number of pending appeals filed by the state that contest various provisions of the desegregation orders issued by U.S. District Judge Russell Clark.

Lawyers for the district and the state expect to begin negotiations this month to determine how the appeals can be consolidated and when hearings on them should begin.

Employers in Kansas City are required to begin withholding the income-tax surcharge from employee paychecks on Jan. 1. Property-tax bills that reflect the increase were mailed to taxpayers last month.

Vol. 07, Issue 14

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