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The trial of a 17-year-old Troy, Mich., girl accused of poisoning her teacher with the hallucinogenic drug lsd ended late last month in a mistrial after jurors announced they could not reach a verdict.

Oakland County Prosecutor Richard Thompson planned last week to file a motion asking for a new trial, said Lori Cook, a spokesman for Mr. Thompson.

Linda Marie Conflitti, a senior at Troy Athens High School, was charged in January with placing the drug in the coffee of her English teacher, Robert Heffernan, last December. Mr. Heffernan said he suffered convulsions and hallucinations after he drank the allegedly spiked coffee. (See Education Week, Jan. 30, 1991.)

Ms. Conflitti was suspended from school indefinitely shortly after the incident. If convicted on the poisoning charge, she faces up to five years in prison.

The Newton County, Ga., school board failed during a special meeting last week to meet a court order to choose a valedictorian for this year's class from between two honors stu6dents vying for the honor.

The meeting had been ordered by U.S. District Judge Marvin H. Shoob, who is hearing a federal suit brought by C. Thomas Allgood 3rd, a white student, who protested the naming of Johnathan Henderson, a black student with a lower grade-point average, as valedictorian. (See Education Week, May 22, 1991.)

The decision quickly became a racially charged dispute in the district.

The judge ordered the special session when he found that a closed meeting during which the board selected Mr. Henderson had violated the state's open-meetings act and denied both students their state-mandated right to a hearing.

He also ordered the board to clarify its selection policy, and recommended that future decisions be made at the administrative level.

In his closing statements, Judge Shoob also recommended that the students share the honor. "Such a generous gesture on their part could initiate the process of healing for a community deeply divided by this emotional issue," he said.

But during last week's meeting a motion to that effect was defeated and the four board members present split their votes between the two students. One board member was absent from the meeting.

A further court hearing on the case was scheduled for late last week, one day before the graduation ceremony.

The driver of a school bus that crashed in North Carolina last month, killing three students, has been charged with three counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle and possession of marijuana.

Sharon (Sissy) Farrington, 32, faces up to six years in prison and a $1,600 fine if convicted.

There is no evidence the bus driver was under the influence of the drug at the time of the crash, said her lawyer, Cliff Homesley.

The crash occurred May 17 when a dump truck slammed broadside into the bus Ms. Farrington was driving from Alexander Junior High School in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district. The bus then wrapped around a tree, killing the three students and injuring 12 others. (See Education Week, May 29, 1991.)

According to Mr. Homesley, Ms. Farrington was unable to stop the bus at the intersection because it would have meant blocking a railroad track, which is a violation of state law.

Ms. Farrington has driven buses for the district since 1982 and was nominated to be the system's driver of the year in 1987.

Just three days after officially entering the Boston mayoral race, Diana Lam, who resigned as superintendent of the Chelsea, Mass., schools in favor of politics, has withdrawn from the campaign. (See Education Week, May 22, 1991.)

Ms. Lam announced her withdrawal after the Boston Globe revealed that she and her husband had failed to file their state income-tax returns on time. The paper also reported that the couple owned 10 residences in the city that had been cited for possible violations of rent and housing-inspection codes.

Mayor Raymond Flynn still faces the president of the Boston Teachers Union, Edward Doherty, and two other candidates in the Democratic primary next fall.

Ms. Lam told reporters she intends to finish her tenure as head of the Chelsea schools, run under contract by Boston University, and then look for a job.

Vol. 10, Issue 38

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