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A Houston newspaper will appeal a unanimous ruling by a state appeals court barring reporters from reviewing the college transcripts of administrators for the Houston Independent School District.

Texas' First Court of Appeal ruled last month that an amendment to the state's open-records statute, passed after the Houston Chronicle began its inquiries into adminstrators' credentials, shields the school officials' transcripts from public inspection. The newspaper will appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, according to Tony Pederson, the Chronicle's managing editor.

The newspaper first sought the records in 1988 as part of its investigation revealing that between 5 and 25 Houston school administrators had obtained mail-order degrees from an unaccredited California university. (See Education Week, Sept. 7, 1988.)

The open-records-law exemption was passed in 1989 after the attorney general and a state district judge ruled the transcripts were public documents.

The Boston school system's already embattled special-education program must now deal with the resignation of its director and the threat of losing $1 million more in federal funds.

Judith Riegelhaupt, the program's director for the last two years, told city school officials last month she was resigning her post in order to take another, undisclosed job.

Her resignation followed by several weeks a decision by the Massachusetts Department of Education to withhold $863,971 from the program for failing to comply with orders in a 14-year-old state- court case involving handicapped children and their parents and advocates. That order came after a monitor appointed by the court issued a report citing the school system for delays in providing transportation to handicapped students and translating education plans for non-English-speaking families during the third quarter of the last school year. (See Education Week, Aug. 1, 1990.)

Since then, the monitor, Richard Cohen, has issued a second report recommending that the state withhold $1 million more from the school district for continued violations during the fourth quarter of last year. The state has not taken any action on that request.

Meanwhile, court hearings are scheduled this month on a request by the plaintiffs in the court case to place the special-education program into receivership.

Teach for America, the program that recruits young college graduates to teach in inner-city and rural schools, has found teaching jobs for all but 8 of its first 500 participants. (See Education Week, Jan. 17, 1990.)

The eight members of the Teach for America corps are awaiting word on whether they will be hired by school districts in North Carolina, where the state has cut its financial contribution to rural districts. But a spokesman for the organization said the corps members were expected to be hired shortly.

The corps members, who did not study education in college, underwent an eight-week training course over the summer housed at the University of Southern California. Los Angeles-area schools have hired 230 corps members, while 170 are working in New York City. The rest are in Baton Rouge, La. (20), New Orleans (40), North Carolina (30), and Georgia (10.)

Two yearbook advisers in Prince George's County, Md., who failed to catch obscene remarks written by students in their publications have agreed to accept 10-day suspensions and to issue public apologies.

Superintendent of Schools John A. Murphy had recommended that Donald Watson, of Bowie High School, and Stephen H. Arnold, of Parkdale High School, be fired for failing to edit out racist and sexual remarks that had been written in code in the yearbooks they supervised. (See Education Week, June 13, 1990.)

Other yearbook advisers in the county received warnings from Mr. Murphy to be more cautious in reviewing their publications, and the district is considering a set of standards for student publications.

A suburban-Houston school district has dropped its ban on long hair for boys, but the student whose lawsuit precipitated the move says he will not return to the school.

Travis Wilkinson, a 16-year-old who would have been a junior at Northbrook High School in Spring Branch, Tex., has opted to be taught at home.

In October 1988, Travis and his brother Brian were suspended from the school when they refused to cut their shoulder-length hair. The district's dress code forbade hair below the collar on male students.

The Wilkinsons, charging gender discrimination, sued the district in state court, and the district in turn filed charges against Dub Wilkinson, the boys' father, for keeping his sons out of school during the controversy.

The two side reportedly were near agreement when the district this month dropped the ban on long hair.

Brian is now a student at a community college. (See Education Week, Oct. 18, 1989.)

Vol. 10, Issue 2

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