District News Roundup

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A federal appeals court has ruled that a Tennessee school district must pay for a student's treatment in a psychiatric hospital where he was placed by his parents.

The May 29 ruling came in a case involving Jason Babbs, a teenager who, according to the suit, has a long history of emotional problems and academic failure. On entering the Knoxville County school system, the boy was evaluated for special-education services and found to be ineligible for such a program.

Unknown to his parents, however, the boy continued to have behaviorial problems in school. After learning that school officials were considering expelling Jason, the Babbs family withdrew him from school and placed him in a psychiatric hospital.

School officials contended that they were not required to pay for his care because Jason had been hospitalized for medical reasons.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said, however, that the school had failed to analyze the boy's needs thoroughly.

Moreover, the judges said, the federal statute "clearly embodies both academic instruction and a broad range of associated services traditionally grouped under the general rubric of 'treatment.' ''

Lawyers for the school district said they plan to ask the full court to rehear the case.

The Arizona Department of Education has charged that an elementary-school district misused $900,000 in federal Chapter 1 grants by using the bulk of the money to pay the salaries and benefits of teachers who were not employed in compensatory education.

As a result of an audit, the state found that the Roosevelt Elementary School District used $643,000 to pay teachers whose jobs did not qualify them to receive the money. The audit also indicated that the district improperly spent $157,000 on salaries and benefits for aides and office personnel.

According to the state's report, most of the 16 schools in the district that received Chapter 1 funds either have no compensatory programs in place, offer minimal programs, or did not begin offering services until late this school year.

While some services were being provided to ineligible children, the state also charged, many pupils in need of Chapter 1 programs were not receiving services.

If evidence is not produced by June 29 to rebut the state's charges, the district will be required to replace the Chapter 1 funds with locally generated revenues.

The president of the Austin, Tex., school board filed a lawsuit this month to have herself declared the district's budget officer and, therefore, in charge of preparing the school spending plan.

In a suit filed in Travis County District Court, Beatriz de la Garza said that she, not the district's superintendent, should manage the district's budgeting.

The court action came after the board refused to change the district's budget policy and shift control to Ms. de la Garza. Local officials said they fear that the Texas Education Agency might step in to supervise the district if the dispute is not quickly resolved.

The lawsuit challenges board members and district administrators to prove why Ms. de la Garza should not be in charge of the Austin Independent School District's finances. Furthermore, the action asks the court to order the district's superintendent, Jim Hensley, to provide whatever information and help the board president requests.

The city of Chicago will purchase and install metal detectors at any of the city's 74 public high schools and alternative schools, if requested to do so by principals and the local school governing councils, Mayor Richard M. Daley announced this month.

Under the plan, the city would provide two doorway-style metal detectors for each school. The metal detectors cost $3,000 each and would be paid for with funds remaining in two accounts used to retire bonds, according to the Mayor's office.

Recent random searches in the schools by Chicago police have turned up, among other weapons, dozens of guns, hundreds of knives and razors, and cans of Mace, officials said.

In the past, school officials could request the loan of hand-held metal detectors, said Lauri Sanders, a spokesman for the district. About a half-dozen high schools and two elementary schools have purchased hand-held detectors of their own, she said.

The New York Civil Liberties Union is expected to file a lawsuit this month against the New York City Board of Education over its recent decision to require that áéäó-prevention lessons place a greater emphasis on sexual abstinence than on condoms.

The resolution, adopted last month by the board, requires all outside organizations and individuals taking part in the district's AIDS-education program to sign a statement saying they will provide only materials and lessons stating that sexual abstinence is the most effective means of avoiding the virus that causes AIDS. Melinda Abrams, a spokesman for the civil-liberties group, said the agreement violates the U.S. Constitution's protections of free speech.

She said the group is likely to file a lawsuit on behalf of several individuals and organizations later this month.

Last week, a spokesman for the district said there were no resolutions before the board to rescind the policy.

Two Milwaukee organizations last week announced a new school-choice program that will pay half of private-school tuition for children from low-income families.

The Partnership for Educational Choice is modeled on the CHOICE Charitable Trust, a privately funded choice program in Indianapolis that has also been copied in San Antonio and Michigan.

The Milwaukee program was launched by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and Partners Advancing Values in Education, a local corporate partnership.

The Bradley Foundation pledged $500,000 a year for three years, which is expected to be matched or exceeded by other corporate and foundation donations.

Under the program, eligible low-income families who reside in the Milwaukee school district may apply for grants for one-half of private-school tuition, up to $1,000 annually per child.

Unlike the state-sponsored voucher program in Milwaukee, which applies only to nonsectarian private schools, the partnership program will extend to religiously sponsored schools.

Vol. 11, Issue 39, Page 2

Published in Print: June 17, 1992, as District News Roundup
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