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The driver whose truck knocked a Texas school bus into a gully Sept. 21 has pleaded innocent to 21 counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Ruben Perez faces up to 10 years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000 in connection with the deaths of 21 students in Alton, Tex. The accident, in which 60 students were also injured, occurred when his truck ran a stop sign and crashed into the bus. (See Education Week, Sept. 27, 1989.)

Mr. Perez, who has been under 24-hour protection by private security guards reportedly because of threats against his life, was released Nov. 22 after posting bail. His trial is scheduled to begin March 12.

According to an assistant district attorney in Hidalgo County, where the accident occurred, it is "very likely" that Mr. Perez's lawyer will seek a change of venue for the trial.

The grand jury that returned Mr. Perez's indictments may also indict several lawyers for illegally soliciting business from the victims' families.

Rudy R. Gatti, a veteran California schools superintendent, has been named advisory trustee to assist the Oakland Public Schools in developing financial-recovery and educational-improvement plans.

The California legislature created the position this year in a special bill designed to establish a stronger state role in overseeing the Oakland schools, which have faced charges of financial mismanagement and corruption. (See Education Week, Sept. 13, 1989.)

Mr. Gatti was most recently superintendent of the Santa Clara Unified School District, a position he held for 15 years.

Vol. 09, Issue 14

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