District News Roundup

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The Kentucky state school board has decided to appeal a circuit-court ruling earlier this month that the state's intervention in the Whitley County Schools was unlawful.

The state department of education took partial control of both the Whitley County and Floyd County schools last year under an "academic bankruptcy" law adopted in 1984.

The law established a four-phase process by which local districts can come under state control if they fail to meet certain standards.

Franklin Circuit Judge William Graham said the state failed to provide full assistance to Whitley County during the second phase of the process, in which troubled districts are to receive technical assistance from the state.

The ruling also said the district was denied due process before being placed in the third phase of the plan, which is a partial state takeover.

Judge Graham said several areas of the law and the regulations are vague and need to be revamped by the state legislature and the state education department.

The state school board has decided to appeal the decision and will ask the state supreme court to put a stay on the lower-court's decision until the appeal is heard.

Eleven schools in the Kenai-Soldotna, Alaska, area were closed for three days earlier this month because of ash from the erupting Redoubt Volcano.

A violent eruption of the volcano on Jan. 8 spread up to three-quarters of an inch of ash in the area. School officials were concerned that the ash could be a health threat to children and could cause damage to6building ventilation systems if pupils tracked ash into schools.

Extracurricular events were also postponed for a week because students could not practice, school officials said.

A senior at a Roman Catholic high school in Chicago who was expelled for getting married has threatened to sue to get readmitted.

Elizabeth Valeri, a 17-year-old senior at Maria High School, was expelled this month by school officials because school policy prohibits married students. Officials learned of the student's marriage when a picture of her and her husband appeared in a Chicago newspaper as the first couple to marry in Cook County in 1990.

Sister Grace Ann, the principal of Maria, said in a prepared statement that "marriage outside the church and prior to high-school graduation, while legal, does not constitute an appropriate example for other students here at Maria."

Ms. Valeri has demanded an apology and threatened a lawsuit to be reinstated at the school, from which she was to graduate in June. Robert Shindler, a lawyer for the student, said last week that he was negotiating with school officials to settle the matter.

Boston teachers have voted to go on strike Jan. 25 and 26 to protest the city's failure to pay for their contract, which calls for the establishment of school-site councils to manage each school.

The city, which is facing funding cuts from the financially strapped state, maintains that it does not have the money to pay for the contract.

Boston teachers also conducted a one-day strike Dec. 15, closing the city's schools.

A New York teacher can go to trial against the school district that fired him for allowing the publication of a student editorial opposing the creation of a federal holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a federal judge has ruled.

In a ruling last month, Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York also suggested that school administrators might be required to extend greater freedoms to extracurricular student newspapers than to ones produced within a formal classroom setting.

In ordering the case to go to trial, Judge Dearie rejected the school-board's contention that the case should be dismissed because of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1988 decision in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. That decision upheld the authority of a school principal to remove controversial articles from a newspaper that might reasonably be perceived "to bear the imprimatur of the school."

In Hazelwood, the newspaper was produced as part of a journalism class, the judge said, whereas the newspaper involved in the current case, Romano v. Harrington, is extracurricular. Michael Romano, the newspaper adviser at Port Richmond High School in New York City, claims that the firing violated his First Amendment rights of free speech.

Up to 1,500 noninstructional positions in the Detroit public schools may be eliminated in a forthcoming reorganization plan, John W. Porter, the district's superintendent, said earlier this month.

The job reductions in the nation's sev6enth-largest school district can be accomplished without layoffs, Mr. Porter said, but did not provide further details.

Mr. Porter also released a document outlining issues that the district will have to address as it moves toward adopting choice and school-based management as a stimulus to school improvement in the district.

The document touched off controversy in the district when the Detroit News revealed that much of it was taken verbatim from two articles that appeared in the December issue of Phi Delta Kappan.

The Knoxville, Tenn., chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has voted to appeal a recent settlement of a racial-bias complaint they had filed with the U.S. Department of Education against the Knox County public schools.

The settlement, which was approved by the department's office for civil rights and county school officials this month, calls for the district to reassign teachers over the next three years so that no more than 23 percent of the faculty at each of its schools is minority.

Currently, almost one-third of the district's 92 schools have no minority teachers, while others have a faculty that is as much as 70 percent minority members.

Local naacp officials said the agreement falls far short of addressing the racial-balance problems that arose when the county school system assumed control over the Knoxville city schools in 1987.

They said they would appeal the agreement first to the ocr, and, if necessary, consider filing suit in federal court.

Vol. 09, Issue 18

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