District News Roundup

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Prior restraint by school officials of unofficial or "underground" student publications is unconstitutional, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled.

The decision represents a significant elaboration of the Supreme Court's decision in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, issued last January, in which the Court held that school administrators have sweeping authority to regulate school-sponsored publications.

The appeals panel held that the authority granted by the Hazelwood decision does not apply to unofficial newspapers and publications, which are essentially "communications among students."

The decision came in a case involving five students at Lindbergh High School in Renton, Wash. In 1983, the students wrote "Bad Astra," a four-page newspaper that criticized attendance policies and contained a mock teacher-evaluation poll. They distributed it at a senior-class barbecue.

The students were reprimanded under a school policy that required all material written by students for distribution on campus to be submitted to officials for approval.

The court directed that the reprimands be removed from the students' records.

Elementary- and middle-school students in Detroit are being taught how to be more "street safe" in the wake of three rapes last month.

Superintendent Arthur Jefferson has met with police officials to discuss the addition of patrols around schools during the hours that students would be arriving or leaving, according to a spokesman for the district. And elementary and middle-school students are being trained to follow certain safety rules while walking on the streets.

The most recent incident occurred when a 12-year-old student at Rosa Parks Middle School was attacked on the way to school. Earlier, a 17-year-old student was raped on her way to Denby High School, and a 13-year-old was sexually assaulted at Carstens Elementary School.

By last week, police had made an arrest only in connection with the assault on the high-school student.

Prince George's County, Md., will be the first school system in the nation to host a space-science laboratory commemorating the crew of the space shuttle Challenger, officials said last week.

The Challenger Learning Center will be housed on a site adjacent to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Space Flight Center.

State and local goverment and private industry will provide $345,000 to establish the facility, which will be affiliated with the national Challenger Center for Space Science Education.

Students will use the new facility and an existing planetarium to take part in a simulated mission to Halley's Comet.

When the Maryland center opens next fall, it will join a network of three others established by the ccsse in science museums in Boston, Houston, and Seattle.

A jury has awarded $125,000 in damages to a former New York City high-school student who claimed she was illegally strip-searched by school officials.

The state-supreme-court jury voted 6-0 in the favor of Kim Stevens, who was a senior at Herbert Lehman High School when the search occurred.

In October 1984, school officials saw Ms. Stevens with a manila envelope that they thought might contain marijuana. She was taken to a back office, completely stripped, and examined, according to Richard Emery, Ms. Stevens' lawyer. No illegal drugs were found.

Lawyers representing New York City and the board of education have indicated they will appeal the jury's decision.

The Parkway, Mo., public schools discriminate against handicapped students by failing to accord them federally mandated due-process and equal-access protections, a lawsuit filed in federal court contends.

The lawsuit charges that Parkway school officials have not informed parents of handicapped students of their rights to special-education services or provided them with a mechanism to appeal the district's decisions on referring students for services. Handicapped students in Parkway and other districts in St. Louis County are served by a special school district.

"The fundamental problem is a complete deferral of responsibility from the local district to the special district," said Kenneth M. Chackes, a lawyer with Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services.

An Abilene, Tex., high-school teacher was in fair condition last week, after being shot in the head Nov. 22 as his first-period class was ending.

School officials say Rick Maloney, a teacher at Abilene Cooper High School since 1981, apparently was shot by a 166year-old student. Most of the other students had already left the classroom, but about half a dozen witnessed the attack.

The exact motive for the shooting is not known, but school officials speculate that the alleged assailant was unhappy over a grade.

A hearing is scheduled to determine whether the student, whose name was not released, can be tried as an adult. Officials say the student had no prior record of serious discipline problems.

The Prince George's County, Md., teachers' union has blasted a proposal to offer individual schools performance-based cash incentives, calling it an effort to introduce merit pay.

The "rough draft" of a plan to offer cash awards for "exemplary performance at the schoolhouse level" has been circulated among the school system's 171 principals by Superintendent of Schools John A. Murphy. The proposal would challenge schools to compete to improve test scores, attendance, and other factors.

But the union has already mailed letters to businesses and community leaders arguing that the plan places too much emphasis on improving test scores.

Vol. 08, Issue 14

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