Districts News Roundup

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The Willingboro, N.J., school board has been charged with safety violations as the result of a state investigation into a building collapse that killed one worker and injured five others.

The New Jersey labor department concluded that the board ignored three provisions of the state safety code when officials ordered a maintenance crew to tear down a building on school grounds.

The collapse of the structure on March 13 caused the death of David Cartier, 46, an 18-year employee of the district.

Officials failed to warn employees of potential hazards, did not conduct the required engineering survey to determine the possibility of a building collapse, and alsupport beams to be removed from the side of the building before the roof was removed, the state report alleged.

The state agency ordered the district to submit by the end of the month a plan for future demolition projects.

Elmer Corda, president of the board, said investigators had not yet determined who ordered the maintenance crew to begin demolition.

But Superintendent Peter J. Romanoli said the board made the decision without his approval while he was busy elsewhere.

The district will not be penalized by the state unless it does not comply with the order, a department spokesman said.

But state police are investigating whether criminal negligence led to the injuries, which could also result in civil litigation.

Officials of Middlebury College and New York City's DeWitt Clinton High School last week announced the formation of a unique partnership intended to bolster the graduation and college-attendance rates of the high school's students.

The agreement calls for faculty and alumni of the college, located in Middlebury, Vt., to be involved in lecture and teaching days at DeWitt, and for DeWitt teachers and students to participate in special programs at Middlebury.

The college's admission staff will also conduct a program at Dewitt to help high-school students from throughout the Bronx understand the processes for applying to college and for financial aid.

The partnership is an outgrowth of a seven-year effort by Middlebury to improve its recruitment and retention of minority students, said Ron Nief, chief spokesman for the college.

The Smithfield, R.I., school system must offer special-education services to children at a state-funded home for delinquent and neglected children, the state supreme court has decided.

The court ruled March 28 that the school district has to provide speech and language therapy to students at the St. Aloysius Home for Boys because the home, which can serve up to 100 youths, is not a "closed'' facility. Under state law, school districts are exempted from serving detention6homes and other facilities where children are confined to the grounds.

Superintendent David R. Reilly of Smithfield said the ruling could have a "far-reaching" impact on the small suburban district, as well as on other communities where such state-operated group homes are located.

The murder of a 15-year-old student in a Worcester, Mass., high school has prompted public demonstrations of unity by students, who denounced reports that the incident was caused by tensions between blacks and Hispanics.

Gerome Johnson, a star athlete at Worcester High School, died late last month after being stabbed in the neck. Police have refused to identify the Hispanic student who has been charged with juvenile delinquency by reason of murder in the case.

Although some parents and teachers blamed the attack on longstanding racial tensions at the school, a police investigator said the incident was the result of a personal feud between the two youths.

About 60 students staged a march outside the school on the day after the slaying to demonstrate their solidarity.

A Knoxville, Tenn., television station has developed a commercial-free news program for teenagers.

Knoxville is also home to Whittle Communications, creator of Channel One, a controversial pilot project that broadcasts news and commercials into high schools.

"We want to get the students interested in news," said Earl Taylor, program director of WKXT-tv said last week.

The weekly feature will provide 15 minutes of world, national, and local news, including a two-minute report produced by a local high-school student. It will be aired in the early-morning hours, so that school officials can videotape it for showing at any time.

Some Detroit and Dallas high-school students could accumulate as much as $2,000 each for college or job training from a new dropout-prevention program underwritten by Pepsico Inc.

Under "The Pepsi Challenge," which was scheduled to be launched this week, the soft-drink company will provide $500 per semester for "at-risk" students at one school in each city who maintain a C average and an 80 percent attendance rate and graduate in four years.

The company also proposes to pay 50 teachers at each school $1,000 a year to act as mentors for students. As a result, schools that currently have high dropout rates6would "almost become magnet schools of sorts," said Rebecca Madeira, spokesman for the firm.

Committees of local school officials, Pepsi employees, and representatives of the Citizen's Scholarship Foundation of America will select the schools for the pilot program.

Vol. 08, Issue 29

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