District News Roundup
St. Louis school officials say they may be forced to consider "massive" staff cuts and layoffs as the result of a state appeals-court ruling that invalidated a $100-million bond issue they hoped to float in order to pay for the district's desegregation efforts.
The state court of appeals last month upheld a circuit-court ruling that a two-thirds majority was required to approve the bond issue. Sixty-one percent of the voters approved the bond issue.
School-board officials said that, unless they appeal successfully to the state Supreme Court, they might have to consider such alternative strategies as selling short-term bonds, taking the original measure back to the voters, or laying off large numbers of employees in order to keep the district's capital-improvements program on track.
The bond issue was to have helped pay for the district's share of $161 million in school improvements and renovations ordered by a U.S. District Court as part the district's desegregation plan.
More than $155,000 was found missing last week from the accounts of a Des Moines high school in what state auditors have called one of the largest cases of misuse of public funds in state history.
An audit of the books at Lincoln High School showed that during the period of Dec. 11, 1987, to April 4, 1990, the school was short $155,192, more than six times the $23,644 the school's own audit found missing last April, said Richard Johnson, a state auditor.
A former employee agreed to pay back the smaller amount after a meeting with school administrators last spring. Mr. Johnson said the school did not notify the state of the meeting or of the missing funds, and thus violated state law.
The state is considering possible sanctions against the school's administrators.
The funds disappeared when school receipts were altered, money was not deposited into school accounts, and money was paid out without adequate documentation, Mr. Johnson said.
Nearly one-quarter of more than 1,000 inner-city students in Chicago recently surveyed said they had seen someone killed.
A study based on the survey, which was presented at a conference on at-risk children at Meharry Medical College in Nashville last week, found that 35 percent of the middle- and high-school students surveyed said they had witnessed a stabbing, and 39 percent said they had seen a shooting.
Nearly half of the students said they themselves had been the victim of a violent act, the report said.
The report, presented by two researchers affiliated with the Community Mental Health Council of Chicago, concludes that these children rarely are given the mental-health resources they need to cope with their surroundings. Children who witness violent acts, the report said, are far more likely than their peers to engage in violent activities when they are older.
A federal appeals court has sided with the Nashville school district that local schools should be considered for a learning-disabled teenager who sued to be educated at a private school at district expense.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit held this month that the Metropolitan Nashville School District need not obey the finding of a state education department administrative law judge that Curtis Cook be educated at a private school in Carbondale, Ill., at district expense.
Mr. Cook and his parents had argued that his needs could best be met at the Illinois school.
The court also upheld a lower-court order that the multidisciplinary team reviewing the educational arrangements for Mr. Cook consider two Nashville public schools in addition to the Illinois school.
Vol. 10, Issue 06