District News Roundup

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The fact that parents reached a settlement with the Fort Wayne, Ind., school district in a desegregation case does not preclude them from seeking additional relief from the state, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Lawyers for the state had argued that a 1990 consent decree between the district and the plaintiffs could not have been declared valid by the court if a constitutional violation still existed in the district.

Since the decree was declared valid, the lawyers argued, there were no remaining constitutional violations left to be remedied by the State of Indiana, the second defendant named in the suit.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled late last month, however, that the consent decree did not completely eliminate the dual school system, and that some vestiges of segregation remain.

If the presence of a dual school system can be traced to state actions, the court said, then the state remains in violation of the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection until these vestiges are eliminated.

An elementary school principal in Anne Arundel County, Md., has been charged with belonging to a drug-distribution ring.

Principal Patricia Emory of Severna Park Elementary School was arrested late last month along with her husband and eight other members of the alleged drug ring after police seized 800 pounds of marijuana and $320,000 in cash during a raid on her home. Other members of the alleged ring include Mr. Emory's brother and sister-in-law.

Ms. Emory and the others were charged under the state's drug "kingpin'' laws, which mandate a minimum sentence of 20 years for anyone convicted of conspiring to distribute large amounts of illegal drugs, including more than 50 pounds of marijuana.

A police spokeswoman said that the alleged distribution scheme likely had been running since 1976.

Investigators say the group distributed drugs throughout the Baltimore-Washington area, and that the ring is suspected to have ties to Mexico.

Superintendent C. Berry Carter said he was "shocked and dismayed'' by the news of the arrest. Ms. Emory has been suspended without pay.

Teachers and administrators in the district chipped in to raise the bulk of Ms. Emory's $150,000 bail. As of last week, Ms. Emory had not yet entered a plea in the case.

Racially motivated fights and shouting matches at two high schools and a middle school in the Los Angeles Unified School District have prompted the superintendent to call for action from school officials and community leaders.

Late last month Superintendent Sid Thompson told principals of secondary-level schools that he wanted them "to put into motion some kind of plan allowing students of different races'' to be able to discuss any tensions between them, an arrangement that already exists at some schools, said Shel Erlich, a district spokesman.

Elected and "natural'' student leaders "are the best chance for cooling off'' tensions, Mr. Erlich said.

The superintendent's call for action came at the end of a week that saw black and Latino students clash at three schools: North Hollywood High, where several hundred participated in a melee; the Hamilton High Schools Complex in West Los Angeles, where a handful of student arrests followed a fight; and Olive Vista Middle School in Sylmar, where lunchtime shouting erupted.

The superintendent has also asked the the school board's various commissions--made up of volunteers from among district officials and community members--to become more involved in helping with a variety of issues, including racial tensions.

Mr. Erlich said part of the problem in the current tensions is that as students hear about incidents elsewhere through the media, "they want to uphold the honor of their group on their campus.''

The tensions, Mr. Erlich said, are "related in a general way'' but are not a direct outgrowth of last spring's riots.

A New York City mother has filed a federal lawsuit against the board of education, charging that a principal made public the fact that she and her 8-year-old daughter have the virus that causes AIDS.

Filed with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the lawsuit seeks $650,000 in damages from the board and Principal Aurea Rubi Lorans of Central Elementary School 58.

The unnamed plaintiff alleges that in September 1990, she told a teacher that she and her daughter had tested positive for the human immunodeficiencey virus. A month later, the suit says, Ms. Lorans told the plaintiff that she knew of the condition.

In February, the mother claims, Ms. Lorans threatened to "make trouble'' for the family after the mother refused to support the principal on zoning-related issues.

The suit alleges that shortly thereafter, Ms. Lorans revealed the plaintiffs' condition to the mother of another student. As a result of the news being spread throughout the school, the daughter has suffered "severe emotional distress,'' the suit charges. The suit also criticizes the board for what it says is a failure to establish or enforce policies to prevent people from disclosing information about èŸéŸöŸ infection.

Robert Terte, a spokesman for the board, declined to comment on the suit, but contended that the district has led the nation in enforcing confidentiality in AIDS cases since 1985.

"The city has maintained privacy for AIDS patients even before it became state law,'' Mr. Terte said.

Members of the United Teachers of Los Angeles have scheduled a one-day walkout for Nov. 13 to protest a 9 percent pay cut that took effect last week.

Though the union and school board have been trying to negotiate a contract since Sept. 15, an impasse in bargaining last month prompted teachers to vote for calling a strike "if and when it is necessary to reach an agreement.''

A union spokeswoman said last week that teachers have planned demonstrations for "Black Friday'' to "protest the cuts and to remind the city of what it's like to be in a strike.''

District officials said they have arranged for substitute teachers to handle classes that day and do not expect the walkout to be disruptive.

In 1989, an 11-day walkout over a contract dispute crippled the nation's second-largest school system.

Vol. 12, Issue 10

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