District News Roundup

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A former senior accountant with the Detroit Public Schools has been charged with embezzling more than $1.28 million from school funds.

Late last month, Judge Marilyn Atkins of the 36th District Court charged Arthur Johnson Jr. with 145 counts of uttering and publishing false documents or embezzlement of more than $100 and one count of conspiracy to utter and publish false documents or embezzlement of more than $100.

Mr. Johnson is accused of approving checks to Arthur Johnson Dump Truck Company and A.J. Kar Kare, two businesses owned by members of Mr. Johnson's family. He allegedly drew money from an emergency-expenditure fund he supervised.

The investigation of Mr. Johnson's activities began last October after a bank teller contacted the district to verify a check for $48,997 issued without proper signatures. The investigation uncovered alleged misappropriations going back to 1986. Mr. Johnson, who was fired shortly after the investigation began, had been senior accountant since 1982.

If convicted, Mr. Johnson faces a 14-year prison term for each count of uttering and publishing falsehoods, or a maximum of 10 years and a $5,000 fine for embezzlement. A preliminary examination is scheduled for late April.

A spokesman noted that the district is installing a state-of-the-art computer system to verify and generate checks.

The constitutional rights of a suburban Chicago high-school student were not violated when he was strip-searched by school officials who had reason to believe he was carrying drugs in his clothing, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge John A. Nordberg ruled last month that officials at Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Ill., acted appropriately when they searched a 16-year-old junior in March 1991, because they knew that he had previously carried drugs and because a teacher's aide suspected that he had hidden drugs in the crotch of his pants.

Courts generally have held that schools do not have the right to strip-search students.

The judge also dismissed a separate suit against Consolidated High School District 230 that claimed that the officials' action unlawfully established a de facto policy on strip searches.

Basing his case on a previous federal appeals-court ruling, Richard L. Hutchison, the boy's lawyer, argued unsuccessfully that the school's dean of students had, in effect, established a policy because the local school board had not discussed the issue.

Mr. Hutchison said he plans to appeal both rulings.

A popular 17-year-old Los Angeles high-school athlete fatally shot himself late last month on the baseball-team bus as it returned from a game, according to school officials.

Wilfred L. Wright 3rd, a college-bound senior at Dorsey Senior High School who was an "exceptional'' athlete in baseball, track, and football, was apparently playing Russian roulette with a .22-caliber handgun when he shot himself in the head, said Willard Love, Dorsey's assistant principal.

Los Angeles police have ruled the incident an accidental shooting, said Officer Bill Frio, a police spokesman.

Classmates told school officials that Mr. Wright, who was not a gang member, had been carrying the gun--which appears to belong to his parents--for about two weeks because he had been threatened by gang members, Mr. Love said.

Gang-related gunfire has marred two Dorsey home football games in recent years, prompting another high school to forfeit a game at Dorsey last fall. (See Education Week, Nov. 6, 1991.)

The death has had a "severe emotional impact'' on the 2,000-student school, Mr. Love said, adding that there was no indication the youth meant to harm himself.

"That's the question we've been asking ourselves: Why?,'' Mr. Love said.

Vol. 11, Issue 29

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