District News Roundup

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The former superintendent of the San Jose (Calif.) Unified School District has been charged with forgery and grand theft after admitting that he falsified university transcripts to indicate he held a doctoral degree he never received.

James Baughman, 39, resigned last October after school officials discovered that almost 10 years ago he had submitted to the district phony graduate transcripts from Stanford University.

The San Jose district attorney's office announced the criminal charges against Mr. Baughman this month.

The forgery charge stems from a set of signatures and seals the former schools chief admits he falsified on the university records. He was charged with theft for the extra $5,071 in salary he was paid by the district because he was thought to have the doctorate.

Although Mr. Baughman made a public apology following the discovery and repaid the district for the difference in salary, plus interest, prosecutors said his actions were too serious to ignore.

He faces up to three years and eight months in prison if convicted of both felony charges, prosecutors say.

Mr. Baughman had been using the title "Dr.'' since 1984 and had reportedly worn elaborate doctoral robes to high-school-graduation ceremonies as proof of his credentials.

The board of the San Diego Unified School District this month decided not to renew an in-school program run by the Boy Scouts of America because of the organization's ban on homosexuals.

Beginning in July, the school district will no longer participate in the Scouts' "Learning for Life'' program that has been used in 11 San Diego high schools and four elementary schools.

However, because of California law, the board could not end the district's policy of allowing the Boy Scouts to use its facilities outside of school hours, said Christina L. Dyer, the school district's general counsel.

The state Civic Center Act specifically provides that "Boy Scout troops'' shall have access to school district property.

In December, the school board amended its antidiscrimination policy to include a prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and decided to review its relationship with the Boy Scouts in light of the new policy, Ms. Dyer said.

Last year, the San Francisco school board also broadened its nondiscrimination policy in such a way that the Scouts' program would be excluded.

Ms. Dyer said school facilities are used by Boy Scouts after school and on weekends "a great deal'' throughout the district's 157 campuses.

School officials in Harlan County, Ky., are awaiting final clearance from the state before taking back control of the school district after a year of state supervision.

State education officials are ready to transfer their oversight, but the state supreme court this month ruled against the move while it considers the appeal of three ousted school board members whose dismissal last year prompted the state to step in.

In addition to denying the misconduct charges, the board members contend that the state school board did not have the authority to remove them. In the interim, local residents have elected a new board that includes one of the ousted officials.

The new board was set to meet last week, but officials said it appeared that for the time being the state would continue to operate the district with guidance from the new local board.

A New York State review panel has found that the work of the architects who designed a Newburgh elementary school where a wall collapsed in 1989 killing nine children represented simple negligence.

The ruling means that no formal charges will be brought against the architects, because the more serious finding of gross negligence was not made, said Daniel Kelleher, the director of investigations for the state education department's office of professional discipline.

The three-member panel of architects who sit on the state architecture board made the findings about John Clark and George Silverman, the architects who designed East Coldenham Elementary School, which was built in 1959.

The ruling includes a recommendation to close the case based on the findings, Mr. Kelleher said.

In the case of Sol Marenberg, an engineer who also worked on the school, a review panel of engineers found that there was "insufficient evidence to proceed against him,'' Mr. Kelleher said.

Nine children were killed when tornado-like winds blew down a cafeteria wall at the school in November 1989. A 10th child was killed later in front of the school by a motorist distracted by the damage.

Hundreds of teachers in District of Columbia public schools staged a one-day sickout last week to protest city-ordered furloughs.

School officials said the sickout Jan. 21 affected one-third of the city's 178 schools. Teacher absences at those schools ranged from 50 percent to 98 percent, they said.

The job action was not formally organized by the Washington Teachers Union, which is contractually barred from striking.

Principals and other administrators attempted to provide classes for students.

Late last week, teachers were threatening to conduct a second sickout Jan. 22, despite a warning from Superintendent of Schools Franklin L. Smith that he would consider firing any teacher who did so.

The District of Columbia government scheduled 12 furlough days this fiscal year in an effort to save some $36 million in the financially strapped city.

A city court held late last year that the furloughs were unconstitutional, but the District of Columbia Court of Appeals overturned that ruling this month.

A high school principal in Clifton Park, N.Y., who faced criticism for failing to notify authorities of two bomb explosions at his school resigned last week.

Edward Curran, the principal of Shenendehowa High School, said that the controversy over the bombings this month and his handling of the incidents made it impossible for him to do his job properly. He had been with the district since 1970 and had been principal of the school since 1982.

The school, about 10 miles north of Albany, was the site of two bomb explosions between Jan. 8 and 12. Both explosions occurred while classes were in session at the 1,800-student school, officials said.

Parents of Shenendehowa students were angry that Mr. Curran did not inform the police or the district superintendent until the day after the second bombing.

"I do not believe my actions of the past week in any way compromised the overall safety and well-being of the students,'' Mr. Curran said in a statement.

School officials do not believe Mr. Curran intended to cover up the bombings.

Four students were arrested and charged with first-degree criminal mischief in connection with the explosions. They were released on bail of $20,000 each.

An innovative college-scholarship program for Cleveland public school students sponsored by corporate leaders in the city will end this year, district officials have announced.

The Scholarship-in-Escrow program gained national prominence when it began in 1987. Under the program, students earn money for college by getting good grades. Students in 7th grade and beyond earn $40 for an A, $20 for a B, and $10 for a C on report cards. The money was put into escrow accounts pending the students' graduation.

Officials of the Cleveland Initiative for Education, the business-led group that sponsors the program, said that corporate contributors were unwilling to continue financing the program because it was difficult to predict how much it would cost or how many pupils would be served.

Instead, the group has begun a drive to raise $10 million from the corporate community to fund a three-year effort to provide college scholarships to city students.

More than 4,600 public school graduates in the city have received more than $1 million under the current program. Current students who graduate will remain eligible for their funds, officials said.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced a 9 percent increase in high school tuition for next year, the smallest increase in the past five years.

Tuition will jump from $2,225 to $2,425 beginning in the fall. Tuition for non-Catholic students will increase from $2,800 to $3,000.

The new rates were announced in letters to parents of the 24,370 students enrolled in the 25 archdiocesan high schools throughout the five-county area.

The archdiocese late last year announced it will merge or close five of the schools to help reduce a $10.4 million deficit.

Vol. 12, Issue 18

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