District News Roundup

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Teachers in a New York City elementary school, fearing for their safety and that of their students, have started carrying hand-held sirens intended to ward off intruders.

At the request of its members at Public School 214 in the East New York section of Brooklyn, the United Federation of Teachers has purchased and distributed about 75 of the $10 devices at the school on a trial basis, said Bert Shanas, a U.F.T. spokesman.

The palm-sized alarm, which is encased in a leather pouch and has a key ring attached, is activated by pulling a pin, similar to that on a military hand grenade, Mr. Shanas said. A local newspaper has dubbed the device, marketed as The Protektor, the "grenade alarm,'' he said.

Teachers are being encouraged to toss the alarm, which emits a shriek like that of a smoke detector, into a hallway to attract attention if they or their students encounter an intruder.

Two teachers at the school were held up at knifepoint in separate incidents last year, Mr. Shanas said. As of late last week, no one had used the devices, which were distributed Sept. 17, he added.

Metal detectors will be put in use in South Shore High School in Brooklyn following last week's fatal stabbing of a 15-year-old student in a stairwell at the school, New York City school officials announced last week.

Damion Ennis, a sophomore and varsity football standout at the school, was fatally stabbed in the chest by a classmate during a struggle that began in a school hallway Sept. 21. He died an hour later at a local hospital.

Police identified the suspect as Michael Bubb, 16. He was charged as an adult with second-degree murder and possession of a deadly weapon. The weapon apparently used in the crime was a 7 1/2-inch dagger police recovered from the school.

The police said they knew of no motive for the fight.

Just days before the incident, Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez ordered a stepped-up use of metal detectors in 40 city high schools following the release of a report showing a rapid increase in the number of violent incidents in schools.

South Shore was not one of the 40, and there was disagreement last week over whether the school had asked to be included in the beefed-up security checks. But shortly after the incident, Mr. Fernandez ordered the school added to the list.

It was the first killing in the city's schools since the school year began two weeks ago. Last year three students were killed in separate incidents at Thomas Jefferson High School in the East New York section of Brooklyn.

School officials said South Shore does not have a history of violence, and Mr. Fernandez termed it one of the "most stable'' schools in the city.

A man apparently distraught over his 2nd-grade son's grades has been charged with two counts of attempted capital murder of a police officer after he allegedly opened fire on students and teachers at a Houston elementary school this month.

Police said that on Sept. 18 Calvin Charles Bell, 44, walked into the office of the Piney Point Elementary School armed with two handguns, four ammunition clips, a hunting knife, and a can of Mace.

According to the police, Mr. Bell fired one shot over the heads of secretaries, then shot a police officer who was at the school for a drug-awareness program.

Mr. Bell then reportedly walked into the hallway, firing indiscriminately as teachers and students raced into classrooms. No students or teachers were injured.

He then locked himself in a portable classroom where, police said, he shot at point-blank range another police officer. Within 10 minutes, officers surrounded the classroom and Mr. Bell surrendered.

Last week, both wounded officers were listed in stable condition.

If convicted, Mr. Bell could receive life imprisonment.

A grade of X could be part of the permanent transcripts of students found cheating at an Illinois high school, under a new school rule.

The new guideline at New Trier High School in Winnetka was adopted this month as a result of an incident last spring in which 11 students were suspended for cheating. The X grade, which will only be applied to the most serious cases of academic dishonesty, was designed to alert college-admission officers of a student's infractions.

The special grade will be used only in cases where a student is found to have stolen test materials, changed or falsified a grade in a teacher's book, or been in possession of a stolen test, according to school officials.

An X grade means that the student will receive no credit for the course in which the incident occurred. It is equivalent to a failing grade in calculating a student's grade-point average.

School officials, who do not expect the new grade to be used often, said they received the support of teachers, parents, and most of the student body.

Administrators hope that the measure will discourage students by raising the possibility that they will not be able to attend a selective university.

The United Negro College Fund has launched a $5 million fund-raising drive to provide Los Angeles youths with scholarships to historically black colleges and universities.

William H. Gray 3rd, the president of the fund, announced the program, "Ladders of Hope,'' last week at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. In addition to Dorsey, eight other South-Central Los Angeles high schools will participate in the program.

The effort is a response to the riots that ripped through that area of the city last April. One-fifth of the $5 million target already has been raised, Mr. Gray said.

Four Denver public school teachers have filed a class action against the school board, claiming that the district falsely undervalued pensions awarded to full-time employees who opted for the district's early-retirement plan.

The plan adopted by the board in March 1992 provides increased benefits to all qualifying employees. But the formula used includes a penalty devised by the Internal Revenue Service.

The penalty, which reduces the value of the pension, should not have been used, the state lawsuit charges, because it was designed to limit the impact of rich retirement packages for highly paid corporate executives, not for public school teachers.

The plaintiffs set no dollar figure on the alleged undervaluation.

District officials said that the plan greatly benefited those who took advantage of it, and that to have adopted any other plan would have been far too expensive.

A federal appeals court has thrown out a $1 million award to a Newport, Ky., school principal who was fired for using a racial remark in addressing a co-worker.

Robert G. Eaton, the principal of Owens Elementary School in 1987, was dismissed by the local school board following the incident. A state appeals court later ruled that his dismissal was arbitrary and ordered the district to rehire him.

Mr. Eaton, who is now an assistant to the Newport superintendent, filed a federal suit alleging that the Kentucky Education Association conspired to get him fired.

The union, which was acting on behalf of the black employee who made the charge against Mr. Eaton, organized a protest that led to his dismissal.

A federal district-court jury agreed with Mr. Eaton and ordered the union to pay him $1 million in damages.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held this month that the union had used legal tactics in organizing the protest. The court also said that the union activities were protected under the Constitution's free-speech guarantee.

Union officials said they were pleased with the decision.

A group of African-American parents has filed suit against the Oakland (Calif.) Unified School District, alleging that school officials have conspired to give black students an inferior education.

The suit, filed this month in Alameda County Superior Court, accuses the officials of "knowingly and willingly'' conspiring to improperly educate black children, thus violating the children's right to a proper education under the state constitution and injuring them by increasing their probability of dropping out or encountering other difficulties.

The suit also accuses the school of channeling resources and gearing school offerings toward white students.

Dan Siegel, the general counsel for the district, last week characterized the allegations in the suit as "very vague and general'' and noted that a grand jury in Alameda County dismissed similar charges by the parents 18 months ago.

Vol. 12, Issue 04

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