District News Roundup

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The desegregation plan for the Knox County, Tenn., schools is not discriminatory despite the fact that it affects blacks more than it does whites, a federal judge has ruled.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee last month refused to halt implementation of the plan, even though a much higher percentage of black students than white ones will be bused to schools in adjacent zones within the district.

Judge Leon Jordan wrote in his decision that the district's heavy busing of black students is not discriminatory because it responds to changes in housing patterns that were not caused by discrimination in the education system.

In 1989, two years after Knoxville merged with the Knox County school district, the U.S. Education Department's office for civil rights found that the district's student-transfer policy resulted in racially identifiable schools.

Knox County school officials submitted their plan to remedy the situation last April.

The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the right of a county agency to remove three children from the home of a mother who asserted it was her "God-given right" to teach them at home.

In so doing, the state High Court overturned an appeals-court ruling restoring the children to their mother.

In a 6-to-l ruling last month, the state's High Court held that the domestic-relations division of the Geagua County court had acted properly in December 1988 in removing Lorraine Gardini's three children from her custody and giving them to her former husband, Robert Moyer.

Ms. Gardini stopped paying her children's parochial-school tuition in October 1987, and in May 1988 applied for home-schooling certification from the county school board. In December, a court ruled that the children's mental, emotional, and social development were endangered by their mother's action.

The appeals court reversed that ruling last April, stating that Mr. Moyer had failed to prove significant harm would come to the children in Ms. Gardini's custody.

The Cleveland Board of Education has rejected two separate plans to actively pursue an end to federal-court supervision of the district's school-desegregation case.

In a meeting late last month, the board voted 3 to 2 against one resolution calling for it to petition the federal court for release and a second resolution calling for it to reject a consultant's recommendation that it remain under the court order.

Two of three board members vying for reelection voted against the resolutions, while a third, Gerald C. Henley, left the board meeting without explanation before the vote was taken.

The Cleveland City Council has endorsed a proposal to give all proceeds from a 6 percent admissions tax on the proposed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the city's school board.

A majority of the board approved the plan to help the 70,000-student district recover all of the money it stands to lose under the proposed financing plan for the $65-million museum.

Under that plan, some $11.5 million in property taxes over 20 years will be diverted from the schools to the hall of fame.

The admissions tax on the planned museum is expected to generate some $400,000 a year.

The school board earlier had agreed to drop its longstanding opposition to the financing plan in return for a proposed 3 percent tax on admissions, an offer of free admission to the museum for school field trips, and the development of educational materials related to the museum.

State health officials in Rhode Island are trying to determine what penalties they will impose on the Johnston school district for conducting improper asbestos-removal projects at three schools that left more than 600 students and teachers exposed to high levels of the cancer-causing particles for almost a year.

Shelley Robinson, the state's acting chief of occupational and radiological health, said school workers improperly removed damaged asbestos-containing vinyl floor tiles during the summer and fall of 1990.

Although tests conducted this summer found above-average levels of asbestos particles on some building surfaces, there is no way for state officials to know how much asbestos was released during the removal projects, she said.

Ms. Robinson said the schools were reopened last week after being decontaminated this summer. No medical screening is immediately planned for the children, she added, since no test can quickly determine if a child has been exposed to high levels of the fibers. Lung damage and diseases linked to asbestos exposure normally take several decades to develop.

The Texas Education Agency last week appointed a three-person management team and designated a new superintendent to take over the tiny Kendieton Independent School District outside Houston in an attempt to resolve the district's financial troubles.

A Houston superintendent, a lawyer, and a pharmacist will replace the current school board while Patsy Menefee, director of programs for the agency's School Improvement Initiative, will serve as superintendent.

The state moved against the district, which lost its accreditation last fall, after it failed to meet an Aug. 15 deadline for paying off a $180,000 deficit for fiscal year 1991.

Commissioner of Education Lionel R. Meno said the management group eventually will return control of the district to local trustees after resolving its financial problems.

The district is made up of one elementary school with a little over a hundred pupils.

A Texas woman was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $10,000 following her conviction last week for attempting to hire a killer to eliminate the mother of her daughter's cheerleading rival.

A Harris County jury found Wanda A. Holloway, 37, of Channelview guilty on one count of solicitation of capital murder. She had faced a possible sentence of life in prison.

The jury found Ms. Holloway guilty of attempting to hire someone to kill Verna Heath, the mother of a girl on the junior- high-school cheerleading squad that Ms. Holloway's daughter was trying to join. .

Vol. 11, Issue 02, Page 1

Published in Print: September 11, 1991, as District News Roundup
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