District News Roundup

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A California judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a group of low-income parents in the Los Angeles area who sought state-funded vouchers to send their children to private schools.

The suit, organized last year by the Washington-based Institute for Justice on behalf of 34 children from south-central Los Angeles, alleged that the vouchers were necessary to remedy the inadequate educational opportunities available to them in the public schools. The state schools superintendent, other state officials, and the Los Angeles, Compton, and Ingleside school districts were named as defendants in the suit.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cardenas dismissed the suit on June 4, saying the remedy sought by the plaintiffs was beyond his authority.

"The allocation of funds for the purposes of education is a legislative function, and such policy decisions rest exclusively in the legislative and executive branches of government,'' the judge said.

The judge also ruled that the suit failed to show "with specificity how and in what way'' the defendants had denied the plaintiffs' state constitutional right to educational opportunities.

The judge also noted that the state constitution prohibits the allocation of state funds to schools that are not under the "exclusive control'' of public school officials.

Clint Bolick, the litigation director of the Institute for Justice, said the case would be appealed.

"Though the decision was a disappointment, we knew we would eventually be in the appeals court dealing with the constitutional issues,'' he said.

A similar suit involving Chicago parents, also organized by the Institute for Justice, was dismissed in March by an Illinois judge, who also cited a lack of authority to grant the remedy sought.

A 16-year-old New York City student was shot to death last week during lunch break outside his Brooklyn school.

Police said that two unknown youths atacked Andre Sarvis as he took a walk outside Ellery School, a school for troubled teenagers in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Mr. Sarvis was cornered between two parked cars and shot several times at close range, officials said, possibly in a dispute over an article of clothing.

The youth died almost immediately, officials said.

A nonfatal shooting took place in the school in January, officials said, and security had been increased at the school.

A Chicago-area school superintendent was fired from his post last week after being indicted for allegedly stealing more than $8,000 from schools in Lake Forest and Cicero.

Allen Klingenberg had been superintendent of the J. Sterling Morton High School District 201 for 11 months when the school board in March began an investigation into alleged theft of school funds. Charges against Mr. Klingenberg include using bond money for personal moving expenses, subsidizing a friend's college tuition with school funds, and illegally using a public-relations firm with ties to the district to work on a tax-referendum campaign.

Before Mr. Klingenberg arrived at the Morton district in 1992, he served for 20 years as superintendent at the Lake Forest Elementary School District. He resigned that job during a scandal over student cheating. In addition, that district is investigating allegations that he used a state science grant to finance a Lake Forest principal's trip to Rome, school officials said.

Mr. Klingenberg had not yet entered pleas last week in his separate arraignments in Cook and Lake Forest counties. For criminal charges of theft, theft by deception, official misconduct, intimidation, and conspiracy, he faces two to five years in jail, officials said.

Mayor Coleman Young of Detroit has announced that the city will use $1 million confiscated from drug dealers during police raids to fund drug-education programs for city youths this year.

The city will award grants ranging from $10,250 to $60,000 to 22 programs to train peer counselors, create youth-run media campaigns on the dangers of drug use, and develop drug-prevention workshops for at-risk youths, said Teresa Blossom, a spokeswoman for the Mayor.

The project will create 233 part-time jobs for youths and 115 full- and part-time jobs for adults, she said.

Detroit is the first city to use such an approach to combat drug use among youths, Mayor Young said in a statement, adding that the city plans to continue its practice of using a portion of drug-forfeiture funds to hire additional drug-enforcement officers.

City officials contend that the new programs will ultimately make the drug enforcer's job easier.

"We decided to earmark this money to try to put the drug merchants out of business by taking away their customers,'' Ms. Blossom said. "The message [we are trying to promote] is that young people can enjoy a drug-free life style.''

The son of a Maine school district administrator was charged with attempted murder last week after a bomb was discovered in the administrator's car.

Lewis Johnson, the director of special services for School Administrative District 36, serving the towns of Jay and Livermore Falls in western Maine, discovered the bomb when he tried to start his car to drive to work. The fuel tank had been emptied overnight, and Mr. Lewis noticed unusual electrical wiring when he stopped for gas.

A four-member bomb-disposal squad from the Brunswick Naval Air Station removed the bomb, which failed to explode when the car was started due to incomplete wiring.

A police investigation targeted Jeffrey Johnson, 22, as the alleged perpetrator. Mr. Johnson, who has not yet entered a plea, faces up to 40 years in prison if found guilty of the attempted-murder charge.

Detectives in Broward County, Fla., say they have uncovered an alleged prostitution ring involving at least four girls from Cooper City High School.

Police arrested two female Cooper High students, ages 16 and 17, May 26 as a result of a "sting'' operation targeting an escort service that advertised in a local newspaper.

Also arrested was Thomas Hildebrand, 59, who is suspected of running the ring. He was charged with several offenses, including three counts of child abuse. Last week, he was being held in the County jail.

Officials from the high school had no comment.

According to Sgt. Glenn Osani of the Oakland Park Police Department, detectives found a list of 800 names and phone numbers of Mr. Hildebrand's clients.

The girls were released to their parents' custody. Two other Cooper City High students who were identified as members of the ring by the other girls and from the photographs have not been arrested.

Vol. 12, Issue 38

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