State News Roundup
The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled that four members of the Claiborne County school board violated state conflict-of-interest laws in approving teacher-salary supplements because their wives worked as teachers in the district.
The ruling, handed down in late March by Justice Ruble J. Griffin, may have an impact on board members in as many as 125 of the state's 151 school districts where relatives of board members are employed as teachers or staff members, said Ronald E. Crowe, director of the Mississippi Ethics Commission.
Mr. Crowe noted, however, that the number of potential conflict-of-interest cases might have changed since the statistics were compiled eight months ago. The terms of some board members may have expired, he explained, and others may have stepped down as a result of the ruling.
Two of the four men named in the suit no longer serve on the board, said F.A. White, Claiborne County superintendent of schools.
The Mississippi constitution prohibits direct or indirect financial conflicts of interest by public officials.
Over the next eight months, a group of 10 governors led by Gov. Rudy Perpich of Minnesota will study ideas their states might adopt to attack the problem of school dropouts.
The study group will be supported by the Council of State Policy and Planning Agencies under a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In addition to Mr. Perpich, the participating governors will include: George Deukmejian of California, James R. Thompson of Illinois, Wallace G. Wilkinson of Kentucky, William Donald Schaefer of Maryland, Raymond Mabus Jr. of Mississippi, Kay A. Orr of Nebraska, Carroll A. Campbell Jr. of South Carolina, Gerald L. Baliles of Virginia, and Madeleine M. Kunin of Vermont.
Governor Perpich, who is chairman-elect of the Education Commission of the States, last year led a National Governors' Association task force on school dropouts.
California will reimburse its school districts for the costs of providing classes for adult aliens seeking citizenship under the federal immigration-reform law, state education officials have announced.
They said the reimbursements will come from federal funds provided to help states implement the 1986 law, which allows aliens who were living illegally in the country as of Jan. 1, 1982, to apply for citizenship by May 4.
By paying all the costs of the classes, the state will exceed the law's requirement that a minimum of 10 percent of a state's allocation for immigration-related services be used for education.
Experts estimate that nearly half of the country's undocumented aliens live in California. Officials there predict that more than 550,000 adult aliens in the state will enroll in classes designed to help them meet the law's requirement that aliens seeking legal status achieve basic proficiency in English, American
A one-year experiment aimed at narrowing the gap between the numbers of male and female winners of New York State-sponsored college scholarships has succeeded, according to the state education department.
About 50 percent of this year's 25,000 winners of $1,250 Regents
were women, compared with 43 percent in 1987, the department said in a preliminary report late last month. At the same time, it said, the proportion of female winners of Empire State Scholarships of Excellence--1,000 awards worth up to $10,000 each--increased even more sharply, from 28 percent to 40 percent.
"Though we think the department still has a long way to go, this is certainly a giant step,'' said Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group.
The group had criticized the scholarship program as biased for basing its selections solely on Scholastic Aptitude Test scores. Women, on average, score lower than men on the S.A.T., it noted, while their high-school grades typically are higher.
Responding to that criticism, the legislature last year enacted a measure requiring the education department, for one year, to use grades as well as S.A.T. scores in determining eligibility for aid. The department is to report back to the legislature when the 1988 statistics are final.
Gordon Ascher, who was fired as New Jersey's top vocational-education official in the wake of allegations of bidding irregularities in his division, was found dead in the garage of his Northampton Township, Pa., home on March 24. The death was an apparent suicide, according to local police.
Mr. Ascher was one of four state vocational-education officials dismissed in January amid allegations that they bypassed competitive-bidding requirements to direct more than $800,000 in federal funds to selected companies. The state attorney general's office and education-department auditors have been investigating the allegations.
Before serving as the department's assistant commissioner for vocational education, Mr. Ascher had been an assistant commissioner of education in Oregon and chief of New Jersey's statewide testing program.
Vol. 07, Issue 28