Two Alaska school superintendents who are under investigation by a state panel on charges that they violated its code of ethics for educators have filed a federal suit seeking to block the inquiry.
The investigating body, Alaska's Professional Teaching Practices Commission, is not capable of giving them a fair hearing, they argue, because five of its nine members belong to the state affiliate of the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers' union.
"Constitutional due process requires a fair and impartial hearing body," said W. Richard Fossey, a lawyer for one of the superintendents. "And we don't think this is an appropriate way to constitute a state hearing body."
The superintendents, Leland Dishman of the Copper River School District and Alex Tatum of the Kashunamiut School District, also assert that the ethical standards against which they will be judged are "unconstitutionally vague," the lawyer said.
The commission has the authority to set ethical standards for educators in the state and to revoke the credentials of violators. Lawyers involved in the case declined to detail the charges brought against the superintendents.
The panel has asked the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that the 11th Amendment bars state officials from suing the state in most instances and that the suit is "premature," since the commission has not yet decided whether there is any merit to the charges.
U.S. Justice Department Probing
Bakery Sales to N.C. Schools
A federal grand jury in Wilmington, N.C., has uncovered evidence that bakeries have engaged in criminal antitrust violations in connection with sales to school districts in the state, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
The American Bakeries Company of New York City was indicted earlier this year by the grand jury on one count of participating in an illegal conspiracy to rig bids on sales to schools in eastern North Carolina. The indictment alleges that American Bakeries and other companies violated the Sherman Antitrust Act during a period beginning before June 1983 and continuing at least into 1985.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also involved in the ongoing probe, which is examining other allegations of bid-rigging and price-fixing in school contracts for bakery goods, according to Justice Department officials.
The maximum penalty for a corporation convicted of violating the federal antitrust law is a fine of $1 million--which is about twice the profit the corporation gained from the sales--or twice the pecuniary losses caused to the purchasers, whichever is greatest.
Missouri Scraps Lifetime Certificates
For Teachers Hired After Sept. 1
After more than two years of planning and debate, the Missouri Board of Education has eliminated lifetime certificates for public-school teachers in the state as part of a plan to improve the quality of the teaching force.
Except for some vocational teachers, who are not required to have college degrees, the new policy will apply to all teachers who qualify for certificates after Sept. 1 of this year. The new policy was required by a state law enacted in 1984.
"This policy marks a big change for Missouri--a change for the better," said Robert E. Bartman, state commissioner of education. "I think it will improve the status of the teaching profession in our state.''
The board policy creates a four-step process that requires teachers to periodically renew their credentials and to meet certain requirements at each step.
The process leads to the award of a "continuous professional certificate" for teachers who have 10 years' experience, a master's degree, a "professional-growth plan," and a satisfactory record of performance based on evaluations.
The policy also requires that new teachers work with "mentors" and that school districts provide other assistance to encourage teachers' professional growth.
Colorado Court Upholds Privacy
Of Pupils' Achievement-Test Scores
Colorado's highest court has ruled in favor of a school district seeking to protect the privacy of individual students' achievement-test scores.
The state's Open Records Act does not require the Sargent School District to provide individual scholastic records to Western Services Inc., a nonprofit Hispanic advocacy group, the state supreme court said in a Feb. 22 ruling.
The group--also known as the Chicano Education Project--had sued the district after school officials refused to turn over records showing how Hispanic students fared on the tests in comparison with their classmates.
The organization had asked the district to delete individual names from the record sheets for each class, and to substitute a letter code indicating whether a pupil was Hispanic or Anglo.
Even with the use of such codes, students' privacy would have been violated, district officials argued.
"In some classes, there were only two or three kids with Spanish surnames," said Ronald Pincheon, Sargent's superintendent of schools. "That would've made them identifiable."
Only $1.5 million of a special $20-million bond issue for asbestos removal in Rhode Island schools and public buildings has been spent or allocated since the approval of the bond issue in 1985, according to state officials.
Frederick Lippitt, director of the state's department of administration, said few districts have applied for the program, which pays half of a district's inspection, abatement, and removal costs. The agency is conducting a campaign to publicize the program, he said, and has sent letters about the available funds to all school districts in the state.
Vol. 07, Issue 24