District News Roundup

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The Lubbock (Tex.) Independent School District, which has been under a court-ordered desegregation plan for 21 years, has won its freedom from court supervision.

U.S. District judge Halbert O. Woodward removed the district from court supervision this month after ruling that Lubbock had complied with federal desegregation orders issued in 1970.

Termination of court supervision will save the district more than $300,000 each year. The court's decision, however, still must be approved by the U.S. Justice Department.

A district reorganization plan accepted by the court calls for minority students to be bused for one year, instead of the current two, and for the city's second-oldest high school to be transformed into a magnet junior high.

At least a dozen ousted Chicago school principals have filed complaints alleging that they were not retained by local school councils because of race, age, or sex discrimination.

Bruce Berndt, president of the Chicago Principals Association, said 23 of the 32 white principals who were not retained last spring were replaced by members of minority groups. Many have charged that they were dismissed in favor of black or Hispanic administrators who were deemed more suitable "role models."

At least half of the white principals have filed complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and are likely to file suit in federal court alleging that school councils violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Mr. Berndt said.

In 1990, about two-thirds of the rejected incumbent principals were replaced by principals of the same race as most students at their respective schools, Mr. Berndt said. This year, more than 90 percent of the local school councils that replaced principals chose successors from their schools' dominant racial groups.

In what is apparently Georgia's first such criminal conviction, a retired Atlanta principal pleaded no contest this month to simple battery charges stemming from his paddling of a student.

Alfred Scott, formerly the principal at Minnie Howell Elementary School, was fined $250 on the misdemeanor charge and was released, said Fulton County Solicitor James L. Webb.

The charge arose from a/990 incident in which Mr. Scott was said to have struck an il-year-old boy's bare buttocks with a table-tennis paddle. The punishment left dark bruises the size of grapefruits on both buttocks, according to law-enforcement officials.

State law in Georgia permits paddling as long as the punishment is "not excessive or unduly severe." But corporal punishment has been prohibited in Atlanta schools since 1959, according to Edward Shaw, operations administrator for the district.

Mr. Webb said the paddling rendered by Mr. Scott went "over and beyond" what was appropriate. "I would say it was very excessive," he said. . Voters in Dade County, Fla., this month showed interest in changing the district's method of electing school-board members, as 56 percent of the voters in a non-binding ballot question said they would prefer choosing single representives from districts across the county to the present system.

School-board members who are now chosen through a county-wide vote have opposed changes to the system, which proponents said would promise greater minority representation on the board. The seven-member Dade school board currently includes one black and one Hispanic member.

Under the current system, five of the board's members must reside in different voting districts. Beyond the recent straw poll, the system is currently being challenged in court by Hispanics and blacks who seek greater power in the school-board elections.

A group of 32 Everett, Mass., women who lost their school-cafeteria jobs has filed suit demanding reinstatement at wages equal to those of certain male workers.

The case may be the first court application of a 1989 state law mandating equal pay on the basis of sex.

Two years ago, the women filed a pay-inequity suit against the Everett School Committee. One year later, the district turned over the cafeteria operation to an outside firm, and the women lost their jobs.

The new suit charges that the state law was violated because the women were paid much less than male custodians and maintenance workers who performed comparable tasks. The male workers earn about $24,000 a year, district officials said; the female cafeteria workers averaged half that amount annually for a 20-to-25-hour workweek at the time they were fired.

The district maintains the jobs are not comparable.

The suit is scheduled to be heard late this month in Middlesex Superior Court.

Fairfax County, Va., high-school students have stormed a school-board meeting, staged school walkouts, and lobbied the county supervisors to protest a new $100 parking fee at the district's schools.

As part of a plan to trim $30 million from its budget, the school board unanimously voted to increase the fee from last year's $5. The board recently affirmed its stand by a 7-to-3 vote.

The board expects to raise some $574,000 from the estimated 5,000 students who drive to school in the district. That amount is approximately the cost of maintaining school parking lots, said Kohann Whitney, the board's president.

"We were disappointed in the behavior [of the students] and their sense of priorities," Ms. Whitman said.

Superintendent Robert R. Spillane met with student leaders and dissuaded them from protesting on school grounds and during school hours. He said the students seemed determined to continue their protest.

"What can I say?" Mr. Spillane asked. "There's no free lunch and there's no free parking, either."

Two incidents of sexual assault upon students walking to or from school in the Las Vegas area have prompted safety concerns in the Nevada district.

On the first day of school in August, a 9-year-old girl was abducted and sexually molested as she walked home from school alone, said Ray Willis, a spokesman for the Clark County School District.

On Sept. 13, a 16-year-old girl was abducted and raped as she walked to school.

Although the incidents did not occur on school property, the district has offered counseling in the victims' schools and has stepped up its instruction in safety procedures, including urging children to walk with an adult or in groups.

Last week, Superintendent Brian Cram also taped public-service announcements for television that highlight safety precautions, Mr. Willis said.

All of the teachers that the Dallas school district laid off this month to help offset a loss in state aid have been rehired.

The remaining 40 teachers, out of 257 who originally had been dismissed, were scheduled to return to work last week after school officials and leaders of the district's teachers' organizations agreed on a plan to make up the necessary funds.

The layoffs had led to massive student demonstrations and elicited a lawsuit from one of the teachers' unions. (See Education Week, Sept. 11, 1991.)

Under the plan, which requires cutting 15 percent, or $850,000, from the budget for hiring substitute teachers, every teacher will be asked to take two fewer leave days a year.

About 50 of the teachers who initially were let go will be retrained for other teaching areas, according to Rodney Davis, a district spokesman.

The plan also calls for a hiring freeze on most administrative posts.

"This concept is not only innovative, but a very generous and gracious commitment on behalf of the teachers' organizations to encourage everyone to work together to help fellow employees stay on the payroll this year, as well as set the stage for a major new innovative plan that we hope to announce soon for next year," said Superintendent of Schools Marvin Edwards.

Vol. 11, Issue 04, Page 2

Published in Print: September 25, 1991, as District News Roundup
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