Districts News Roundup

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Parents of approximately 65 students plan to keep their children out of Jordan High School in Los Angeles until safety conditions improve, according to a group representing the parents.

The American Association of Women says that violence and weapons are common at the school, which is located in the crime-ridden Watts neighborhood.

Leslie C. Dutton, the group's president, said that many parents have been keeping their children out of school since late Janu Some began their protest in September, she added.

Ms. Dutton said the group has asked the U.S. Education Department's office of civil rights to investigate the situation, on the grounds that the level of security at Jordan is not the same as that provided in mostly white schools.

District officials, who say that only 21 students are involved in the protest, maintain that the school is safe. No disciplinary action is planned against students who miss classes, they said.

Shortly after the parents announced their protest, a teenager was shot to death in the parking lot of a Watts elementary school.

Exterior doors of the 120 elementary schools in Fairfax County, Va., will be locked at all times and students will be barred from going to the restroom alone, district officials in the affluent Washington suburb ordered last week.

The new policy stems from a series of assaults on elementary students by outsiders who had entered the buildings through unlocked doors. Police say the incidents--which have included the rape at knife point of a 9-year-old girl in a restroom--may be linked.

Although the rule requires that doors be locked from the outside, they are equipped with "panic bars" that allow them to be opened from the inside, according to a district spokesman.

Students will have to go to the restroom in pairs or with a teacher, he said.

Robert R. Spillane, the district superintendent, is also considering requiring all school visitors to wear identification6badges, the spokesman added.

Students caught bringing guns to school in the District of Columbia will be immediately suspended for two semesters, under a policy that went into effect last week.

The rule calls for the maximum penalty available under district policy, according to Charles Seigel, a spokesman for the system.

Each case of weapons possession will be reported to the police, he added.

In a related development, the Chicago Board of Education has approved a policy allowing principals, in cooperation with local school councils, to deploy hand-held metal detectors and "sniffer dogs" if there is a "reasonable suspicion" that contraband is present on school property.

More than a dozen Chattanooga, Tenn., schools could be closed, consolidated, or reconfigured, under a plan being eyed by a local task force.

The school district currently operates 52 schools serving students in kindergarten to 3rd grade, 4th to 6th grade, 7th to 9th grade, and 10th to 12th grade.

The district's administrative staff has submitted to the task force a proposal that would trim the number of schools to 36 by dividing them among kindergarten to 5th grade, 6th to 8th grade, and 9th to 12th grade.

The task force is reviewing the proposal and will submit its own recommendations to Superintendent Harold J. Reynolds in the next few weeks, said Jack Conner, assistant superintendent for business services.

Vol. 08, Issue 24

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