District News Roundup
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke of Baltimore acted illegally when he furloughed 10,000 teachers and police officers this year in a cost-cutting move, a federal court has ruled.
In his decision last month, U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Young ordered the city to pay the workers some $3.3 million they lost in wages as a result of the 2-day layoff.
Judge Young held that the city was contractually obligated to pay the employees their salaries, and that the furlough was a "substantial impairment'' of the workers' contracts with the city.
Following a drop in state aid to the city schools, Mayor Schmoke ordered that the teachers and police officers be furloughed between Jan. 16 and April 15.
The suit was brought by the Baltimore Teachers Union and the Fraternal Order of Police. Suits by other public-employee unions are pending.
Officials of the Maryland State Teachers Association hailed the ruling as a victory for public employees, and pledged to carry the fight to suburban Baltimore counties that also furloughed teachers.
After the ruling, Mr. Schmoke said the city might be forced to lay off employees to ease the city's financial difficulties.
A three-term member of the Atlanta school board is under federal indictment on charges of accepting more than $200,000 in payments from a local schools contractor.
Robert Waymer was indicted in U.S. District Court this month in connection with money he allegedly received from Buddy Allen, the owner of Peatross Service Company, which has received nearly $3 million in district funds for pest control and cleaning services.
He faces 76 counts of money laundering and mail fraud and, if convicted, could be sentenced up to 830 years in jail and fined up to $26 million.
Under the school board's charter, Mr. Waymer has been suspended without pay from his board duties. If found not guilty, he would be reinstated with back pay, school officials said.
The indictment is part of an ongoing investigation of the board and the school system by a joint task force on public corruption of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.
The investigation began last spring when a former associate superintendent was found to have embezzled $145,000 from an insurance fund. He was convicted and is serving a 15-month sentence.
Mr. Waymer, who was elected to the board in 1981, also chairs its finance committee.
Seven years of costly desegregation efforts in the Kansas City, Mo., public schools have done little to boost achievement or integrate classrooms, a citizens' panel has concluded.
Despite the fact that its desegregation expenditures have exceeded $1 billion, with the figure for last school year alone exceeding $200 million, the district has made "only modest incremental improvements'' in student achievement, and its students continue to lag behind their peers nationwide in terms of standardized test scores, the report charges.
Moreover, the report states, the district's magnet-schools program has failed to recruit and retain nonminority students; in fact, it notes, four magnet schools actually have lost white students since the magnet plan was implemented.
A district spokeswoman last week said officials there had no response to the report.
The 13-member committee that issued the report was established by a
federal court in 1985 and charged with overseeing implementation of the
district's desegregation plan.
Vol. 12, Issue 05