District News Roundup

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The involuntary busing of Milwaukee public-school students would be reduced under a plan proposed this month by Howard L. Fuller, the city's superintendent of schools.

Mr. Fuller's proposal, subject to approval by the district's school board, seeks to maintain racial balance in the district, but would allow parents to enroll their children in schools near their home.

Under the current system, students from one neighborhood can be bused to up to 80 schools throughout the district. Mr. Fuller's proposal calls for students to be bused to one of 20 schools within several racially balanced regions.

The superintendent said in a report to the board that the plan would save the district $6.8 million in busing costs over four years, while reducing the average length of a student's bus ride by 20 percent.

Currently, Mr. Fuller said, black students are more likely than white ones to be bused. In addition, he said, schools in predominantly black areas are becoming overcrowded.

Three school-district administrators were among 22 people killed in Killeen, Tex. last week in the nation's worst mass shooting.

Two other employees of the Killeen Independent School District were wounded and others escaped without injury when a lone gunman went on a shooting spree at a crowded cafeteria before killing himself, a district spokesman said.

Killed were Patricia Carney, the district's director of elementary curriculum; Nancy Stansbury, its Chapter 1 supervisor; and Ruth Pujol, the Chapter 1 parent coordinator.

The Red Cross, Army officials at nearby Fort Hood, and various social-service agencies last week were providing counseling where needed to the district's employees and 24,000 students.

Two 4th-grade boys in Miami were killed during a school field trip last week when a wheel that had come off a truck collided with their school bus.

Two buses were carrying approximately 40 students from Tropical Elementary School to a downtown history museum when a wheel came off a truck traveling in the opposite direction, according to Henry Fraind, spokesman for the Dade County public schools.

"Somehow, the tire bounced across the median and into [one of the buses], going through the windshield and striking" the two boys, Mr. Fraind said. The tire then rolled down the center aisle of the bus without hitting anyone else.

The bus driver and a teacher were both hospitalized with injuries, and seven children were treated for bumps and bruises.

Mr. Fraind described the accident as "unpreventable." Out of 486 bus accidents in Dade County during the 1990-91 school year, he said, 308 could not have been prevented. The last fatality from a school-bus accident in the district occurred in 1988, he said.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, barraged by public criticism over administrative spending, has instituted an immediate freeze on central-office hiring, travel, administrative pay raises, and new equipment purchases.

Warren Farutani, president of the school board, called a press conference this month to outline the cuts after he received "hundreds of letters and phone calls" from parents and teachers questioning the district's spending priorities as it seeks to whittle away at a $132-million budget gap.

Critics have complained, among other things, that the district spent more than $400,000 on travel last school year and that it has budgeted $600,000 in such expenses this year.

On Oct. 11, Superintendent of Schools Bill Anton called another press conference to defend the district against what he called baseless charges of bloated bureaucratic spending. He said the decentralization of district management had already reduced central-office staff by 25 percent and saved about $16 million.

Nonetheless, he endorsed Mr. Furutani's cuts--which included eliminating drivers for school-board members--and called for the paring of 20 to 30 additional centraloffice positions by July 1992.

A 17-year-old, straight-A student who filed a $2-million lawsuit when his school denied him admission to the National Honor Society lost his case before a federal jury this month.

Justin Dangler, now a senior at Yorktown High School in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., claimed that he was denied admission to his school's N.H.S. chapter last March in retaliation for his and his father's expressions of free speech, said Michael J. Rabus, the school's lawyer.

But a six-member U.S. District Court jury found that neither Justin's nor his father's speech was a "substantial factor" in the decision made by the five-member Yorktown faculty committee.

The Danglers have filed an appeal, Mr. Rabus said.

Justin was one of four academically qualified students to be rejected for membership in the N.H.S. out of a field of 29 juniors, Mr. Rabus said.

Membership in the N.H.S. is based on scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Justin received low marks, mostly on character, Mr. Rabus said, because of his use of profanity in describing students and teachers.

The Danglers also claimed that their son had been denied admission because of a survey on racism he conducted for a student newspaper article, his father's activism in school-district matters, and a civil-rights claim the family successfully brought against the district in 1989.

A federal jury has awarded a Texas high-school coach $985,000 in a $5'million discrimination suit he brought against the Brownsville Independent School District.

Jerry Jackson, a teacher who has coached varsity sports in the district for 20 years, alleged in his suit that the district violated his civil rights when he was repeatedly transferred and passed up for a head coaching position.

Keith Uhles, Mr. Jackson's lawyer in the case, said that, despite the teaching honors his client had received, Mr. Jackson was transferred four times in six weeks.

The jury found that the district violated the rights of Mr. Jackson, who is black, by conspiring against him with discriminatory intent and denying him equal protection under the law.

"We are very disappointed with the decision," said Oscar Barbour, chief district administrator. "We feel the evidence was not there."

Mr. Barbour maintained that the selection process for the coaching positions was fair. "They won the first round in a long process," he said, adding that the district might appeal the decision.

A 9-year-old Texas boy's dispute with his school over his hair length suffered two legal setbacks this month.

The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's denial of a temporary injunction sought by Zachariah Toungate to keep Mina Elementary School in Bastrop County from enforcing the hair-length policy that has kept him out of school for almost a year, said the boy's lawyer, Charles Beall.

On the same day, Judge Harold Towslee of the 21st Judicial District Court of Bastrop County granted the school district's motion for summary judgment--effectively dismissing the lawsuit filed by Zachariah and his family, Mr. Beall said. The family will appeal the decision. Mr. Beall said he was "not a bit" disheartened by Judge Towslee's ruling--in part because "this gets us back to the appeals court."

Because he refused to cut his "rat tail" hair style, Zachariah was kept in isolation at school for several weeks last year before a psychologist recommended his removal. Last spring, he was taught at home by his mother and is now in private school in Austin, Mr. Beall said.

Vol. 11, Issue 08, Pages 2-3

Published in Print: October 23, 1991, as District News Roundup
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