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Warning of an impending shortage of teachers, Florida's commissioner of education, Betty Castor, has urged the board of regents of the state university system to try to increase by 5 percent a year the number of new teachers trained within Florida's borders.

Telling the regents' master-plan committee that more than 60 percent of all new teachers in Florida have been trained in other states, Ms. Castor last month asked the group to recommend that the university system make it a goal to reverse this situation.

Committee members endorsed Ms. Castor's suggestion and said they would write the goal into the system's master plan, according to Mary Anne Havriluk, a spokesman for the state education department.

In addition, Ms. Havriluk said, the commissioner told the members that state universities need to make it easier for Florida teachers to take the courses they need for recertification. And she asked them to consider rewarding university faculty members who encourage potential teachers or work in the public schools.

Zakiya Lathan, a straight-A student suspended from Providence-St. Mel High School in Chicago for refusing to apply for weekend enrichment classes, has returned to school but will be back in court this week for more legal wrangling.

Cook County Circuit Judge Anthony Scotillo in April temporarily barred the Roman Catholic school from keeping the 8th grader out of classes but scheduled another hearing on her suit charging that the school violated her right to due process.

The judge said Ms. Lathan would not have to fill out an application for the University of Illinois Saturday College while the case is pending. Ms. Lathan's lawyer has asked that she be permanently reinstated and exempted from applying for the course. The girl argues that her weekend time should be her own.

Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp, the school's curriculum director, said Providence-St. Mel asks about 15 students a year to apply for the Saturday high-school-level classes as enrichment. She said the school does not force students to attend the classes.

But when Ms. Lathan declined to apply for the special course, she was asked not to return to school without the completed application form and missed a week of school, Sister Hagelskamp said.

The school, which is located in an area of the city that was burned during the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, also requires seniors to apply for college admission and juniors to take the American College Testing Program examination. More than 95 percent of the school's graduates go to college.

Gene Dedeke, the transportation director of Unified School District 409 in Atchison, Kan., claimed it was a move designed to bring attention to school-bus safety violations. But district officials said it was a prank motivated by the director's unhappiness with certain personnel decisions.

In any event, when Mr. Dedeke walked off with the keys to the entire fleet of school buses and mini vans, he left approximately 450 students stranded last month.

The transportation director was fired immediately, according to Bill Sellers, the district superintendent. But to allay concerns raised by Mr. Dedeke's allegations, the district called in the state highway patrol and two independent mechanics to inspect the vehicles. Although several minor repairs were needed, he said, no major problems were found.

But because the keys were not returned, mechanics had to install new ignition switches in the buses so that transportation could be resumed the following day.

Fortunately, said Mr. Sellers, the lack of buses did not keep too many students from getting to school. "We asked parents to cooperate to get their children to class, and all but 30 students made it.''

Vol. 07, Issue 32

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