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The Oakland, Calif., school district made progress last year in addressing its administrative and fiscal problems, but 47 percent of the system's students still earned grade averages of D or F, according to a recent report.

The Commission for Positive Change in the Oakland Public Schools, a nonprofit citizens' group, late last month issued a report that credited Richard P. Mesa, the district's superintendent, with helping to turn the school system around after it neared bankruptcy and was rocked by a theft-and- patronage scandal during the 1989-90 school year. (See Education Week, Jan. 10, 1990.)

The commission said the district has brought its budget into line and has achieved stability in an administration that formerly had a high rate of staff turnover.

The commission added, however, that the reforms in the district had not had an impact on student achievement, and that last year's test scores showed little improvement over the year before.

Angela Glover Blackwell, a co-chair of the commission, said the panel was "encouraged" that the district has set improved student achievement as a goal but was "extremely alarmed that students continue to perform at such a low level."

The commission report said the problems that continue to plague the district include overcrowded classrooms, staff and textbook shortages, and campus violence.

Last month, at least 40 of 58 teachers at Castlemont High School staged a walkout because, they said, the district had failed to improve campus security in the wake of the shooting of a student.

In response to a proposal by the Mayor of Baltimore to cut the city's budget by trimming five days from the school calendar this winter, the Maryland Board of Education has issued a directive forbidding school districts from providing fewer than 180 days of education.

The directive, issued last month, is likely to thwart cuts and furloughs that Mayor Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore said were necessary to make up for a $27.5-million cut in state aid to the city. (See Education Week, Nov. 20, 1991 .)

A spokesman for the Mayor said last month's board decision was a general directive to all districts, many of which had proposed similar furloughs. But, because of the directive's broad language, the spokesman said, Mr. Schmoke would continue to press the state board for a waiver of the 180-day rule.

Two police officers with the Los Angeles Unified School District have been reinstated after having been fired for being present at the March beating of a motorist. The school district's personnel commission late last month overturned the school board's dismissal of the officers, Marc Diamond and Paul James Beauregard, the commission's personnel director, Jon Campbell, said.

But the three-member commission decided that Mr. Diamond, a 16-year veteran, and Mr. Beauregard, a 5-year member of the force, should be disciplined with unpaid suspensions of two months and four months, respectively, for violating school district policies and procedures, Mr. Campbell said.

Because both officers have been off the force since their dismissal in May, the suspensions are considered served, and the two could be on duty again as soon as this week, according to Mr. Campbell.

While on patrol last March, the officers joined the pursuit of Rodney King's car, which ended in a beating witnessed by more than 20 officers from several police agencies. (See Education Week, May 22, 1991 .)

Vol. 11, Issue 15, Page 3

Published in Print: December 11, 1991, as News Updates
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