District News Roundup

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Two Tennessee school districts are in the process of modifying their policies allowing children to leave classes to attend Bible lessons, in the wake of recent legal settlements involving similar policies in two other districts.

Johnson and Union counties have had "release time" policies allowing children to leave classes to attend Bible programs held on school grounds.

But in the past year, parents in two other counties, Carter and Claiborne, have brought federal suits against the school districts and a fundamentalist Christian organization, contending that such classes are unconstitutional. As a result, the school districts and c.b.m. Ministries of Gatlinburg agreed to end the Bible classes.

The Johnson school board is considering a revision of its release-time policy that would allow students, with parental permission, to leave the school grounds to attend Bible classes held during school hours. The Union school board recently adopted a similar policy on a trial basis.

Teachers in Eugene, Ore., who participate in team efforts to improve educational quality would receive an additional $1,000 in the second year of a new two-year contract tentatively worked out by union leaders and administrators.

The novel "incentive" provision is part of an agreement that would provide pay increases of 4.55 percent and 5 percent over the two-year period. It also would supply

each teacher with $100 annually for professional activities and supplies, and two additional paid days for professional development. The result of extensive informal discussions between the National Education Association local and administrators, the proposal is being praised by both sides as a dramatic advance toward nonadversarial bargaining.

Under the new system, joint teams will also continue to discuss such issues as benefits and teacher workload and work environment, according to district officials.

The 17,600-student district in 1987 experienced the longest teacher strike in Oregon history.

The black basketball coach of Banks High School in Birmingham, Ala., has regained his job after a federal judge ruled he was removed for racial reasons.

U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon rejected arguments by the Birmingham Board of Education that Clarence Jackson was removed for poor performance. The Banks High School team won only two of 40 games under Mr. Jackson's leadership.

The school's principal implemented a "scheme designed to frustrate Jackson's success as a coach of the varsity team," Judge Clemons wrote.

The Birmingham board does not plan to appeal the decision, according to Superintendent Cleveland Hammonds Jr.

Over the objections of teachers and principals, the school board of the Choctaw-Nicoma Park (Okla.) School District has voted to abolish corporal punishment.

The district's policy is the first of its kind in the state, according to Oklahomans Opposed to Corporal Punishment.

Dale Stearns, the district superintendent, said local educators were virtually unanimous in opposition to the ban. Nevertheless, he said, the board voted 4-1 for the prohibition after one of its members, a physician, described the physical and emotional effects of corporal punishment.

Twenty Oklahoma school districts have dropped an inexpensive health-insurance program after learning from state officials that the firm offering it may have misrepresented itself.

Mary Clark, an aide to state Insurance Commissioner Gerald Grimes, said the firm, America's International Reinsurance Company, Ltd., was not licensed to do business in Oklahoma. It also falsely claimed that it had the backing of two Texas insurance companies, she said.

Ms. Clark said airco offered school districts health-insurance coverage for $60 a month for each employee.

All premiums were returned to the districts, Ms. Clark said, adding that the commissioner may seek "administrative and judicial remedies" against the company.

Elementary students would learn about gun safety, under a new program being considered by the Dade County Public Schools.

The National Rifle Association last year proposed a program to teach elementary students not to touch any gun they found, and to tell an adult about the weapon as soon as possible, according to Marion P. Hammer, a spokesman for the nra.

Initially uninterested, Dade County officials say they are now rethinking the idea after reports that 30 children in the county have been killed this year while playing with guns, most often at home.

Nra officials want the program to be offered statewide, but Education Commissioner Betty Castor has opposed the idea, according to a spokesman.

Vol. 08, Issue 08

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