State News Roundup

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Connecticut districts may discipline students for behavior that occurs off school property, if such actions threaten schools' educational environment, the state's acting attorney general has ruled.

The advisory opinion, which is being distributed throughout the state, was issued in response to requests from the superintendents of New Haven and Bridgeport. Last year, a federal judge blocked New Haven Superintendent of Schools John Dow Jr.'s attempt to expel a student for his alleged involvement in off-campus violence.

The new opinion is similar to policies in effect in at least four states, according to Mark Stapleton, chief of legal affairs for the Connecticut Department of Education. Rulings by California's attorney general and by state courts in Arkansas, New Jersey, and New York have empowered schools to discipline students for off-campus actions, he said.

Three Mississippi businessmen have been charged in an alleged bid-rigging scheme involving the sale of portable classroom buildings to school districts.

The three men allegedly "divided up" Mississippi and agreed on inflated bids for their respective areas. State officials said the three men allegedly netted more than $800,000 from school districts in Warren, Wayne, Pike, and Lee counties and from Head Start programs in Lee County and the Gulf Coast.

Indicted were Carl W. Stribling, of Stribling Brothers Enterprises in Bovina; Paul Adams Jr., of Adams Home Center in Yazoo City; and Otho W. Brown, of Magnolia State School Products in Columbus.

Each has pleaded innocent to one count of conspiracy to obtain money under false pretenses and five counts of mail fraud.

School boards cannot cite projected long-term enrollment declines as a justification for teacher dismissals, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled.

Instead, suspensions can only be motivated by drops in enrollment that occur in the same year as the dismissals, the court said in a 4-to-3 decision.

The Ohio Education Association welcomed the ruling, but the Ohio School Boards Association argued that it would take away flexibility in personnel decisions from school boards.

The court's decision came in response to a suit brought by a high-school teacher who claimed that the South Range Local School District improperly suspended her from her job in 1985. There had been no enrollment decline during the year of her suspension.

The number of teachers and administrators in Wisconsin schools has grown by nearly 20 percent over the past two decades--even as the number of students has fallen by a similar percentage, according to the Public Expenditure Research Foundation.

A study by the nonpartisan foundation found that the number of professional staff members in the state rose from 46,647 in 1969 to 55,841 this year, while school enrollment decreased from 909,182 to 737,626.

While many of the staffing increases have come as the result of new state-mandated programs, said Robert C. Brunner, president of the organization, "this [study] certainly points out the need for some districts to look at their staffing patterns."

Kentucky students have reached parity with students across the nation in performance on a nationally standardized test, according to John Brock, state superintendent of public instruction.

In 16 of 19 categories, Kentucky students' average performance equaled or exceeded the 1988 national norm, with only scores in 3rd-grade math and 7th-grade spelling and learning skills falling below the national standard.

The Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills was selected last year to replace the controversial Kentucky Essential Skills Test, which was used from 1985-88.

The kest was a blend of two types of tests, one part developed in Kentucky, and the other taken from a nationally standardized test.

The legislature scrapped the test after critics charged that the favorable national comparisons reported for KEST were invalid because they were estimated and because they were based on outdated norms.

The C.T.B.S. was redesigned and reformed in 1988. The norms were established based on average scores of a large national sample of students. Comparisons are made against the average scores of those students who are in the same grade and who take the test at the same time of year.

Vol. 09, Issue 02, Page 2

Published in Print: September 13, 1989, as State News Roundup
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