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Five Minneapolis-area school districts have approved a plan to develop an unusual public-education facility in a giant new shopping mall.

The school districts last month individually approved an agreement for jointly operating the proposed school at the Mall of America, a 4.2-million-square-foot shopping center under construction in Bloomington, a Twin Cities suburb. (See Education Week, Oct. 9, 1991 .)

The education facility would eventually offer services from preschool through adult education for the mall's estimated 10,000 employees.

"We have set up a governance plan," said Sue Hankner, the consultant to the districts that have formed the Metropolitan Learning Alliance. The participating districts are Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, Richfield, and St. Louis Park.

The facility is scheduled to offer its first services by the time the mall is scheduled to open, in August 1992.

Delmis Donta, the former superintendent of the Boyd County public schools in eastern Kentucky, has been fined $250 after being convicted of a misdemeanor official-misconduct charge for signing a false class-size report.

But the veteran educator, who failed to appear at his trial, has maintained his innocence and his lawyer has said that Mr. Donta will appeal the judgment.

A district court judge also ordered Mr. Donta to pay court costs, which were estimated at $2,850 for the three times jurors were called to court but sent home when the former superintendent asked for postponements due to medical reasons.

Mr. Donta resigned as head of the district on the eve of a state school-board hearing aimed at ousting him from office. (See Education Week, Oct. 2, 1991 .)

Mr. Donta still has a challenge before the Kentucky Court of Appeals, seeking to dismiss the charges, which were based on school law that had been declared unconstitutional. The state supreme court abolished the state's school statutes in a school-finance case. The action led lawmakers to adopt the state's landmark 1990 school-reform law.

Another Kentucky superintendent charged with mismanagement and targeted by state officials under the school-reform law has attempted to sidestep the ouster by resigning his post.

One day later, however, Robert Shepherd was rehired by the same district as its technology coordinator.

Mr. Shepherd and the five members of the Harlan County School Board face charges brought by state Education Commissioner Thomas C. Boysen aimed at removing them from office. Saying the charges had destroyed his credibility, Mr. Shepherd resigned his post, which paid $70,807, on Nov. 13. The next day, he was appointed to the technology post, which pays $54,000. The district's acting superintendent bypassed two other applicants in offering Mr. Shepherd the job. (See Education Week, Nov. 20, 1991 .)

In the post, Mr. Shepherd, a former science teacher, will lead a committee that will draft a five-year technology plan and will consult with technology suppliers, orient teachers, and study other districts' efforts. He told reporters that while he has no specific training in education technology, he has a "general working knowledge" of computers.

The other two applicants are high-school computer instructors in the district.

Officials said Mr. Shepherd's contract provided for his return to his previous job as an assistant superintendent in the eastern Kentucky district. The former superintendent needs three more years of service before he qualifies for benefits under the state's retirement plan.

The Mobile, Ala. school district has received a $4-million bailout package that officials hope will allow the schools to remain open through the end of the school year.

The Mobile County Commission and City Council have approved a financial package that will help the district meet an estimated $600,000-per- month shortfall caused by an across-the-board, $145-million cut in the state's education budget ordered by Gov. Guy Hunt. (See Education Week, Oct. 16, 1991 .)

The county commissioners pledged $2.05 million, while the city council authorized a $2.1-million payment. The county funds include $1.5 million previously earmarked for school capital improvements and funds cut from a paramedic program. The city has yet to determine where it will make cuts to fund its share of the bailout, officials said.

The county also asked the district to publish a semiannual finance report and to install a new computer system.

Gene Tysowsky, a district spokesman, said the funds, coupled with the recent sale of some unused land for $3 million, should ensure a completed school year, barring further state cuts or natural disasters.

The families of 14 students killed in a school-bus crash in Mission, Tex., in 1989 have filed suit charging that the district was remiss in not buying buses with emergency exits and by failing to train students and drivers in emergency evacuation procedures.

A total of 21 senior and junior high students were killed in the crash on Sept. 21, 1989, when a soft-drink delivery truck smashed into the bus and sent it plunging into a ravine.

It was one of the worst school-bus accidents in U.S. history. (See Education Week, Sept. 27, 1989.)

The driver of the truck still awaits trial on 21 counts of involuntary manslaughter.

The parents received millions of dollars in an out-of-court settlement with the Valley Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the driver's employer. (See [email protected] Week, March 7, 1990.)

Vol. 11, Issue 13, Page 3

Published in Print: November 27, 1991, as News Updates
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