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Thousands of teachers in Washington State staged one-day walkouts and demonstrations last week to protest Gov. Booth Gardner's decision not to use part of the state's huge budget surplus for teacher pay raises.

According to the Washington Education Association, which represents the majority of teachers in the state, about 13,000 teachers in 29 school districts in the western part of the state walked off the job on Feb. 13. Another 10,000 staged after-school rallies, parades, and other demonstrations.

Teachers also distributed more than one ton of peanuts in packages bearing the slogan "Good teachers don't work for peanuts."

The controversy over teacher pay raises arose in December after Mr. Gardner unveiled his plans for spending a $611-million budget surplus. (See Education Week, Jan. 10, 1990.) Average teacher salaries in the state have dropped from 4th in the nation in 1981 to 21st this year, and teachers contend some of the budget surplus should be used to give them raises.

A Jefferson County, Colo., administrator faces criminal charges for allegedly failing to report a teacher who stands accused of slapping a student.

Robert M. Lopez, assistant principal of O'Connell Junior High School in Lakewood, is charged with a misdemeanor for not reporting to authorities the abuse allegedly inflicted by Roxanne Snell, an English teacher at the school. Ms. Snell, who has been charged with misdemeanor child abuse, is accused of using more than reasonable force to break up a fight at the school last November.

Mr. Lopez is the sixth educator in the district to be charged under a state law requiring school officials to report suspected child abuse. In November, a grand jury indicted five educators on charges of not reporting the alleged sexual abuse of a student. Since that time, the county social-service agency has been flooded with calls from school employees reporting alleged abuse. (See Education Week, Feb. 7, 1990.)

The Cleveland school board has filed suit against the state to win back authority over the district's lawyers.

Last May, the state invalidated a board requirement that the district's legal department report only to the board, rather than to the district superintendent, Alfred D. Tutela.

Mr. Tutela and the board are embroiled in a long-running dispute over his performance and the general state of affairs in the troubled district, which is under a court order to desegregate its schools. (See Education Week, Feb. 7, 1990.)

The board's suit, filed late last month in federal district court in Akron, argues that the state exceeded its authority in allowing the district's lawyers to report to Mr. Tutela. The board and the state are co-defendants in the desegregation case.

It was unclear last week if the suit would affect prospects for a settlement between Mr. Tutela and the board, or increase the possibility of a state takeover of the district.

Vol. 09, Issue 22

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