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A federal-court jury in Denver has ordered a former asbestos manufacturer to pay for removal of the substance from boiler and pipe insulation in a Colorado school building.

The $134,000 judgment against the Celotex Corporation marks the first time a jury has found a manufacturer liable for the cost of removing asbestos from such insulation, according to lawyers for the plaintiff, the Aurora school district.

The district had requested $300,000 to remove asbestos from the building, which houses both offices and classrooms.

The March 4 verdict marked the end of the first stage of a three-part, $40-million action the district filed against 10 former asbestos makers in 1984. Several companies and the district have already reached out-of-court settlements.

New York City's middle and junior high schools should be reorganized to provide a stable environment for students undergoing the "rapid and profound changes'' of early adolescence, says a task force.

The panel, appointed by the board of education, recommended replacing the variations in grade levels now found in the city's intermediate schools with a consistent structure comprising grades 6-8.

It also urged the board to establish a 750-student enrollment cap at each school; reduce pupil-teacher ratios to 25 to 1; and hire at least one guidance counselor for every 250 students.

The 15-member task force--composed of leaders of local education and citizens' groups--also proposed in its report this month that students be organized into groups of 100 whose primary instruction would be overseen by five-teacher teams.

Students in each group--which would include a range of ability levels--would proceed together through a core curriculum of interdisciplinary studies.

To provide continuity in the transition from elementary to high school, the task force said, 6th graders should receive the bulk of their instruction in a single homeroom. The use of homerooms would be progressively reduced in the 7th and 8th grades.

Middle schools should also be made more readily available for extracurricular and community activities, according to the report, which did not include cost estimates.

The report is one in a series commissioned last year by the board of education on major issues affecting the school system. No action is expected on the proposals until the system's new chancellor, Richard R. Green, has had a chance to assess them.

The Baltimore city school board has prohibited students from bringing telephone pagers--or "beepers''--to school.

School officials in the city, as in other urban districts that have taken similar actions in recent years, said the paging devices had caused unnecessary interruptions in class activities and served as an aid to illegal-drug sales by students.

Under the new policy, school authorities are authorized to confiscate the beepers and return them only to parents. Students will be subject to disciplinary action if they refuse to hand over the devices.

Eighty-nine students in West Covina, Calif., were hospitalized for observation this month after several developed allergic reactions while out on a school playing field.

Officials at the Rincon Intermediate School sought medical help after seven students in three physical-education classes developed red eyes, rashes, and eye blisters shortly after the start of class.

Except for one student who had asthma, all were released the same day and none had long-lasting symptoms, according to a school spokesman.

Weed, water, and grass samples taken from the field by county health officials did not reveal a cause for the reactions, the spokesman said.

A 6th-grade teacher at a Navajo reservation school in Northeast Arizona has been arrested and charged on five counts of child molestation, authorities reported this month.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Robert A. Schumann, who had taught at Monument Valley Middle School for the past 18 years, on charges that he molested four boys under the age of 15 at the Kayenta public school between May 1984 and January of this year.

The arrest is the second of the kind in the past two years involving the middle school. In 1986, a 5th-grade teacher--Conrad M. Flint--was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a single count of sexual misconduct with a minor.

Arizona officials estimate that more than 100 Navajo students have been molested by teachers or other school employees at reservation schools since 1981. James J. Brunstein, a spokesman for the Arizona Board of Education, said those cases reportedly involved three or four molesters who had contact with many children.

Indian schools may attract child molesters because of their isolated setting, Mr. Brunstein said, adding that state officials are looking into more stringent screening methods for teachers applying for jobs on Indian reservations.

Vol. 07, Issue 26

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