District News Roundup

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Native American parents in Minnesota have asked the Duluth school district to establish a magnet elementary school where Indian children would receive culturally infused instruction.

Indian parents have been negotiating privately with officials of the 13,000-student district for two years to establish such a school for the approximately 600 Indian children who attend the city's public schools.

But Bill Morrison, a Native American whose foster children attend the public schools, said the parents decided to make their demands public at a recent school-board meeting because they believe the district is inattentive to complaints of harassment by white students and unresponsive to the generally poor academic performance of Indians.

St. Paul, Minn., has recently created an Indian magnet school, and a statewide Indian magnet school has also been proposed.

District officials are scheduled to meet with an Indian parents-advisory group in January to discuss their proposal, said Geraldine Koslowski, the district's Indian education director.

But Mr. Morrison, who sends another of his children to a school on the nearby Fond Du Lac reservation, said Indian parents already have obtained a "commitment" from the tribal government to educate their chil6dren in reservation schools.

"We needed to choose the best possible course for our children," he said.

In a ruling thought to be the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, a federal judge has ordered a school district to pay for extra years of schooling for a handicapped boy who was not given a proper educational program.

The ruling last month by U.S. District Judge Norma L. Shapiro forces the Chester-Upland school district to pay for the education of the boy, known as Lester H., until he reaches age 23. Under state special-education law, public schooling normally ends at age 21.

The judge said the extra schooling is required to compensate the boy, who is now 11, for two and a half years when the district failed to find him an adequate placement in the type of private-school program that both school officials and the boy's mother had agreed was necessary.

The last-minute intervention of Mayor George Latimer helped avoid the first threatened teachers' strike in St. Paul, Minn., since 1946.

Mr. Latimer, a former labor lawyer, met with negotiators for the school district and union last week and reached a compromise on Dec. 5, the day before the strike was scheduled to begin.

Teachers in the district will receive an increase of 16.4 percent in their wage-and-benefits package over the next two years. The school board had offered a 15.6 percent increase, while the union had been asking for an 18.3 percent boost.

The 2,600 members of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers overwhelminlgy approved the contract in voting Dec. 6 and 7.

A 35-year-old Natchez, Miss., man has been charged with shooting his wife and raping two of her co-workers in front of a classroom full of kindergartners earlier this month.

A spokesman for the Natchez police department said Larry Bates was arraigned last week on charges of aggravated assault, capital rape, sexual battery, kidnapping, and possession of a firearm by a felon after he allegedly terrorized a classroom at Northside Primary School where his wife worked as a class aide.

Police are still investigating the motive behind the Dec. 1 attack.

The spokesman said a man entered the 506-student school about 1:30 P.M. with a .38-caliber handgun and took the classroom full of 19 students and three adults, including his wife, hostage.

He then lined the students up against the window between himself and the police outside, the spokesman said.

The man shot his wife, Andrea Bates, twice during the afternoon, wounding her in the head and back. Police last week said she was in stable condition. None of the children was injured.

Eddie Jones, Natchez police chief, negotiated with Mr. Bates through the school's intercom system.

The spokesman said Mr. Bates was apprehended after one of the teachers grabbed the weapon out of his hands while he wascted.

District officials said school was open the following day, and that a team of counselors and psychologists had visited students and parents.

A student at Wellington (Kan.) High School was arrested on Nov. 18 for allegedly printing counterfeit $100 bills in a workshop in the school's basement.

Tye Deschaine, 18, was released on his own recognizance on the night of his arrest. He is believed to have been working in the basement on Nov. 11 when a school custodian discovered that the door to the workshop was tied shut with rope, said Steve Brown, Wellington's police chief.

The case, which is being handled by Annette Gurney of the U.S. Attorney's office in Wichita, is still under investigation. As of last week, Mr. Deschaine had not been charged, Ms. Gurney said. The investigation is expected to be completed this week, she added. In the meantime, the student is continuing to attend Wellington High School, according to Merlyn Elder, the school's principal.

A second student, who has not been arrested or charged, is also suspected of working with Mr. Deschaine in the alleged counterfeiting scheme, according to Mr. Brown.

The U.S. Justice Department's Community Relations Service has agreed to mediate a dispute involving charges of racial bias leveled at the governing board of a newly consolidated school district in Arkansas.

Black residents of Wheatley, Ark., filed suit in federal court earlier this year charging that whites from the former Palestine school district dominate the school board formed when the two districts agreed to consolidate in 1987.

The lawsuit asks the court to disband the current eight-member board and replace it with one whose members would be elected from geographic districts.

U.S. District Judge Henry Woods, who oversees the case, late last month ordered parties to the suit to cooperate in the Justice Department's mediation efforts.

Financial problems caused the Toledo Head Start program, which state officials had singled out as one of Ohio's best, to close its doors from late November until early last week.

Parents with children in the program were told late last month that a $200,000 funding shortfall had forced the lay off of as many as 200 teachers, bus drivers, and other employees, according to published reports.

Federal officials awarded a $200,000 grant to make up the shortfall--which local officials blamed on escalating health-care costs--and reopen the program, said William Sullivan, a spokesman for Head Start's regional office in Chicago.

Temple University's Center for Social Policy and Community Development has been awarded a $1 million grant over five years to develop a model program for preventing child abuse.

The program, which will be funded by the National Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, will attempt to "teach people to mind each other's business in a positive and supportive way," according to Seymour J. Rosenthal, director of the center.

The program will work with neighbors throughout North Philadelphia through church groups, schools, and other civic organizations to teach good parenting skills, health care, and alcohol- and drug-abuse prevention.

Residents in the program will be brought together for "celebrations of life," when babies are born in the neighborhoods, and parents will be urged to take "birth vows," similar to wedding vows, to become more committed to proper parenting, Mr. Rosenthal said.

Officials with the center proposed the project after learning that reports of child abuse in the area had increased 94 percent since 1980, he added.

As part of the program, W. Wilson Goode, the city's Mayor, will appoint a task force that will coordinate the efforts of the city's various human-service agencies to better prevent and treat child abuse.

Vol. 09, Issue 15

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