District News Roundup

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The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has declined to hear an appeal by the Lorain, Ohio, school district of a decision requiring it to repay $2.6 million in desegregation funds to the state.

The 14-member court last month refused to reconsider an earlier decision by a three-judge appeals panels holding the district accountable for returning the funds.

The three-judge panel had ruled in November that a lower court erred in modifying a consent decree that capped the state's share of Lorain's desegregation costs. The panel ruled that the state had admitted no wrongdoing in entering the decree, and that the federal district court thus had erred in being persuaded by lawyers for the school district that the state had negotiated a cap that was unfairly low. (See Education Week, Dec. 2, 1992.)

School officials said last month that they would attempt to bring their case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision, forcing the Lorain schools to repay the $2.6 million awarded as a result of the lower-court ruling, comes as the school district is already beset by financial troubles.

An audit released in October resulted in 13 state citations against the district and a finding that its former treasurer had overpaid herself by more than $54,000 from 1988 to 1992.

A California school board that last fall gained a conservative Christian majority has declared that, despite the personal beliefs of a majority of its members, it will not challenge a state mandate to teach evolution in science classes.

Last fall, following a national campaign by Christian conservatives to win control of local boards, two additional religious conservatives were elected to the board of the Vista school district north of San Diego. They joined a fellow conservative already on the five-member board.

One of the board members is an employee of the Institute for Creation Science, a leading foe of evolution-based science curricula.

The election of the new members sparked concern among some parents in the 21,000-student district that sweeping changes in the curriculum would follow.

After one parent, a marine biologist, asked at the new board's first meeting how it would handle the question of evolution, the board scheduled a public hearing that drew a crowd of some 600 late last month.

Deidre Holliday, the board's president and a member of the Christian majority, last month said the district will be guided by the state's science-curriculum framework, which emphasizes evolution, and by precedents set by the U.S. Supreme Court that denied creationism equal stature with evolution in public school classes.

Creationism is the belief that the Earth and life are of divine origin and that creation came into being suddenly about 6,000 years ago.

Two 7th-grade girls in Lorain, Ohio, were charged last week with plotting to kill their English teacher.

According to police and school officials, the girls, ages 12 and 13, may have felt pressured to carry out the killing because other students at Irving Junior High School had wagered almost $200 on whether or not they would commit the act.

Capt. Cel Riveria of the Lorain police said the 13-year-old allegedly planned to stab the teacher while her 12-year-old friend restrained the woman at the end of their class Jan. 20.

A school official, who discovered the plan after questioning a student found sobbing in the hallway, thwarted the attempt minutes before it was scheduled to happen.

Captain Riveria said the 13-year-old told him that she had no other choice but to make good on the threat. The apparent motive was a scolding the girl had received from the teacher, he said.

Authorities found a knife when they searched the 13-year-old's book bag after the alleged incident was to occur.

Last week, the girls were being held in a juvenile-detention center as they awaited a hearing in juvenile court.

Police and school officials withheld the names of the girls and the teacher.

General Superintendent Ted D. Kimbrough of the Chicago public schools was preparing last week to step down from his position Jan. 31, five months earlier than planned.

The Chicago board of education and Mr. Kimbrough announced last week that they had reached an agreement for the superintendent to end his tenure sooner than he had planned.

Mr. Kimbrough announced in November that he would leave the post when his contract expired June 30. He had been criticized for several years by school reformers, who charged that he was reluctant to delegate more resources and authority to the city's schools.

A statement from the district said Mr. Kimbrough had decided that because of "personal considerations'' it was better to leave his post early. He added that his departure would enable school officials to better handle the district's fiscal and labor problems.

The district faces a $385 million deficit for next year and can trim only $85 million of that before new money from the state legislature will be needed to fill the gap. It must also negotiate new labor contracts this year.

Beginning Feb. 1, Mr. Kimbrough will work as an unpaid consultant to the district through June 30.

Until an interim superintendent is named, a team of senior staff members will manage the day-to-day operations of the district, officials said.

The district is continuing its search for a permanent successor to Mr. Kimbrough.

A 14-year-old student in the District of Columbia shot and seriously wounded a school security guard last week after a gang fight.

School officials last week said they believed it to be the first shooting inside a school building.

The guard, identified as Robert Layne, was reportedly in serious condition last week after undergoing surgery for a single .22-caliber gunshot wound.

The student, an 8th grader at the Patricia Robert Harris Educational Center, was charged with assault with intent to kill. Because he is a minor, his name was being withheld.

Authorities said the shooting took place after Mr. Layne broke up a fight between members of rival gangs and called police to take the youths into custody.

Vol. 12, Issue 18

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