District News Roundup

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A Connecticut judge has approved the framework of a plan that could resolve the first lawsuit filed by the state board of education against a local district for violations of its guidelines for racial balance in schools.

The settlement approved by Superior Court Judge James D. O'Connor hinges on approval by the Waterbury city government of a proposed site for a new magnet school that would help desegregate the district's only racially identifiable school.

The state board first cited the Waterbury system in 1984 for racial imbalances in four schools. Four years of negotiations resolved the problems in three schools. Last fall, however, the city's board of aldermen blocked an agreement to settle the remaining issue by constructing a new school that would have enrolled students from two existing facilities.

Once a site for the proposed magnet school has been determined, district administrators will have to gain the state board's approval for a new desegregation plan, a state official said last week.

The Tulsa, Okla., school system faces a $1.6-million fine for failing to meet state limits on class size.

The district has been unable to satisfy the requirement, school officials say, because it has lost $17.5 million in state aid in the past eight years.

Superintendent Larry Zenke said the district was urging lawmakers to authorize the education department to issue waivers to Tulsa and 29 other districts that exceeded a 20-to-1 pupil-teacher ratio in the early elementary grades.

The district is "in a classic 'Catch 22' situation," Mr. Zenke said last week.

He said increasing class sizes was the last resort used by the district after making deep cuts in custodial, maintenance, and other support staffs.

Finally, Mr. Zenke explained, the district reduced its teaching force by 300, and thereby went over the state limit.

If the district is forced to pay the fine later this year, it may have to increase class sizes even more to pay the penalty. That in turn could increase the penalty for the next year, Mr. Zenke noted.

State education officials sympathize with the plight of the 30 districts, but are required by law to enforce the class-size man6date, said Sharon Lease, a spokesman for the education department.

The superintendent and three other employees of the Goose Creek (Tex.) Consolidated School District have pleaded not guilty to charges of misappropriation of funds.

The four were suspended from their posts after being indicted last month on theft charges. They include Superintendent William Kennedy; Charles Closs, associate superintendent for building maintenance and operations; Michael Stephens, construction supervisor; and Matthew Closs, a district worker who is the son of Charles Closs.

Investigators said they believed funds and property in the Houston-area district had been misused for more than a decade. The employees apparently felt that "whatever belonged to the school district was there for their personal use," said Terry Wilson, an assistant district attorney in Harris County.

A high-school football coach in Prince George's County, Md., has been suspended from teaching for allegedly requesting a student to bring automatic weapons to school for use as props in a publicity photograph.

Michael A. Pearson, a physical-education teacher at Oxon Hill High School, was placed on paid administrative leave last week. Brian J. Porter, a spokesman for the district, said the action was taken because of "an extraordinarily serious breach of school security," in which the coach allegedly arranged for his team's "top guns" to pose with the weapons.

The unloaded guns were confiscated late last month by school security officers acting on a tip from a parent who had seen students handling them near an athletic field.

Mr. Porter said the weapons were a machine pistol and a bayonet-equipped AK-47, similar to the one used by a gunman last month to kill five children at an elementary school in Stockton, Calif.

Miami should help community groups build day-care centers in public parks, a city official there argues.

Victor De Yurre, a city commissioner, originally proposed to allow private, profit-making child-care companies to rent building sites in 10 city parks.

When that idea attracted little interest from day-care companies, Mr. De Yurre suggested instead that nonprofit groupsbe offered yearly leases on park land for a token sum.

Schools Chancellor Richard R. Green of New York City wants day-care centers to be established at three junior high schools.

In his budget request for the city school system, Mr. Green sought $168,957 to expand the district's Living for the Young Family Through Education program.

Lyfe operates day-care centers for adolescent mothers in 21 high schools.

Citing an "alarming" rise in parenting rates among teens, Mr. Green argued that the schools should provide "leadership and structure" for young mothers to help them complete their education.

According to city social-service officials, 288 girls under age 15 had babies in 1987.

If funding is approved, lyfe will provide child care, counseling, health, and nutrition classes for junior-high mothers.

Illegal transfers by two students have cost a Kentucky high school 11 girls' basketball victories and five football victories, including a district championship.

Belfry High School in Pike County was forced to forfeit its victories because the student-athletes had given inaccurate information about their eligibility when they transferred from schools in West Virginia. They did not actually live in the district, said Billy Wise, executive assistant commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.

Vol. 08, Issue 21

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