District News Roundup

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Officials of the Stockton (Calif.) Unified School District have approved an agreement that will end court-ordered busing in the district.

The pact between the district and California Rural Legal Assistance, which has represented minority parents, calls for a return to neighborhood schools in the 30,000 student district, which has been under court order since 1977.

The district argues that busing is no longer a viable means of desegregation in the district, which is now 80 percent minority. The new focus on neighborhood schools will alleviate the "harmful effects of racial isolation," the agreement states.

Under the agreement, approved by the school beard last week, parents and teachers will form committees at each of the schools on the city's south side to select teachers and administrators.

In addition, most of the $4 million in desegregation funds that go to the district each year would be used to upgrade buildings and replace portable classrooms in the district.

The agreement still must be formally approved by the state superior-court judge who helped in drafting it, school officials said last week.

The state-appointed administrator of the Richmond, Calif., school district has released a five-year financial-recovery program for the troubled district.

The budgetary plan follows the district's court-approved removal from bankruptcy protection last fall.

According to the plan, the district owes more than $80 million in emergency loans and other long-term debts. These debts, the report assorts, resulted from mismanagement of a costly, intra-district choice plan implemented by former Superintendent of Schools Walter Marks.

According to the recovery plan, the emergency loans-which total more $46 million, including interest--must be repaid within 10 years.

The plan requires the superintendent and school board to develop a manageable budget for the 1992-93 school year and to properly notify employees of budget changes.

The school beard must also agree to update the five-year plan each year and develop a comprehensive education plan consistent with the approved financial plan. Should the school board fail to adhere to any aspect of the plan, it will relinquish authority over the district.

Once the beard has formally agreed to the recovery plan, the local board will regain the authority state officials removed last year.

Dozens of teachers in Fort Wayne, Ind., may be forced to pay thousands of dollars in "fair share" collective-bargaining dues as the result of a ruling last week by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In two separate lawsuits dating back 10 years, the Fort Wayne Education Association has tried to collect the fees-intended to cover the cost of collective-bargaining activities for all employees-from non-union teachers. The fees average about $350 a year.

Last month's ruling reversed earlier decisions by a county circuit judge and lifted an injunction preventing collection of the fairshare fees.

According to Marvin Ross of the Fort Wayne Education Association, at least 100 teachers in Fort Wayne, the state's second largest district, have not paid the fair-share fees for eight years. The ruling opens the way for the union to try to collect that money.

Mr. Ross said he hopes the non-union teachers have followed the advice of their lawyers, who told them to keep the money in escrow in case they lost the lawsuit.

The Kentucky state school board has removed three of the four members of the Harlan County school board who are facing charges of incompetence and misconduct

The board's chairman, Be:my Dale Coleman, along with David Lewis and Ronnie Ball were ousted after a weeklong hearing on the state's charges. Another beard member, Garry Henson, resigned after the charges were filed, as did the district's superintendent. David Kennedy, who was cleared of the charges against him, is the sole survivor of the state's first crackdown targeting an entire local school beard.

The state beard ruled against the Harlan County board members on charges that they had violated a state mandate to close a field house in the district. Members were also convicted of violating state bidding procedures. Officials expect the three beard members to appeal their removal in circuit court. In the meantime, the state has appointed a panel of four Harlan County residents-two doctors, a retired teacher, and a former judge--and two outside members to screen beard applicants. State Commissioner of Education Thomas C. Boysen will make final appointments to the beard. The state also recently hired former Meade County Superintendent Stuart Pepper to assist the acting superintendent.

The state hopes to have a full beard in place by the end of the month.

A special grand jury in Knott County, Ky., last month indicted a former school-bus driver on 25 charges of wanton endangerment stemming from a crash in October that resulted in more than two dozen injuries.

Prosecutors allege that the driver's involvement in a paper-wad fight with students led to the crash.

The grand jury also recommended 25 policy changes concerning school-bus safety in the district.

Bobby Roberts, age 24, and 25 student passengers were injured in October when his school bus ran off the road. The grand jury found that the driver had taken his hands off the steering wheel moments before the bus drove over a steep embankment. Mr. Roberts, who no longer works for the school district, has maintained that he was not involved in the students' horseplay. He blamed the wreck on a faulty steering system.

Vol. 11, Issue 20, Page 2

Published in Print: February 5, 1992, as District News Roundup
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