District News Roundup

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A Milwaukee student who objected on constitutional grounds to the search of his school locker in 1990 did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has concluded.

The search, which occurred after a weekend of gunfire on school grounds and Monday-morning reports of an impending gunfight, did not violate the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, the high court said last month in upholding a circuit-court decision.

In its opinion, the four-judge majority relied on the written and announced Milwaukee school policy that lockers are the property of the district.

The policy states, in part, that "periodic general inspections of lockers may be conducted by school authorities for any reason at any time.''

When there is such a written policy and students have been apprised of it, the court held, "then students have no reasonable expectation of privacy in those lockers.''

The case stems from a 1990 search at Madison High School in which a school security aide searched 75 to 100 lockers before opening that of a student identified as Isiah B. In the locker, the aide discovered a gun and cocaine inside a coat. The student argued that the search was illegal.

Mark Lukoff, the assistant state public defender who represented Isiah B., said he would appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Members of the United Federation of Teachers have voted overwhelmingly to strike in the fall if their contract dispute with the city of New York and the board of education is not resolved.

More than 70 percent of the union members who cast ballots voted in favor of striking. The city's 90,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, guidance counselors, and other school employees have been working under an expired contract since October 1991.

The vote gives the union's policymaking delegate assembly the authority to call a strike at an unspecified time in the fall.

A three-member state fact-finding panel issued a report in April recommending that the city's teachers receive raises of 8.5 percent over a period of 39 months and an unspecified amount of money from increases in state aid.

Meanwhile, the union said, serious negotiations are continuing.

New York State's highest court has ruled that Joseph A. Fernandez did not exceed his authority when, as chancellor of the New York City schools, he sought to have a say in the hiring of superintendents by local community school boards.

The state Court of Appeals last month said Mr. Fernandez did not overstep any bounds when, shortly after taking office in 1990, he issued a directive to the district's 32 local school boards saying they must send him full evaluations of any incumbent superintendents they planned to rehire.

A Queens school board voted to ignore the directive and rehire its superintendent without any comment from the chancellor. Its decision was upheld by a trial court but struck down by a lower appeals court in a ruling that the high court affirmed.

Chief Judge Judith Kaye wrote that the chancellor had not infringed on the hiring authority of local boards in attempting to insure a thorough superintendent-review process.

The Wausau, Wis., school district has adopted a plan for the integration of Asian-American students similar to one implemented for socioeconomic integration a year ago in nearby La Crosse.

The Wausau school board voted 6 to 3 last month to pair three elementary schools with large percentages of Hmong students with three schools with relatively few for the sake of racial and economic balance.

In the fall, 500 to 600 students will be transferred out of their neighborhood schools. Six other grade schools may be worked into the plan at a later date, according to Superintendent Penny J. Kleinhans.

Ms. Kleinhans said she believes the school pairing will improve education as well as insure diversity.

Many parents in the district strongly opposed the move, however, and the board members who favored it have been threatened with recall.

The Maine Supreme Court has ruled that the York charter commission has authority over the town's school budget, permitting residents to vote on the measure by secret ballot.

In a decision reached last month, the high court held that a budget committee established under the charter has jurisdiction over both the town and school budgets.

The decision ends a long dispute over a division in government that allowed school-budget decisions to be made at an open town meeting while municipal budgets were decided by secret ballot. The court overturned a lower-court ruling in favor of the town's elected school committee, which opposed the secret ballot.

Bradford Goodale, the chairman of the school committee, said the ruling would probably result in "more accountability for school spending'' and an increase in residents' participation in school decisions. Until now, he said, the open school-budget meetings were plagued by low turnout.

Seven 6th graders in Columbus, Ga., who tried to injure their teacher because they found her too strict were sentenced to 48 hours of community service each last month.

A juvenile-court judge also ordered additional counseling for the three girls and four boys who had tried to poison their teacher's iced tea and trip her down a flight of stairs at Georgetown Elementary School.

The youths also brought a handgun and a knife to school.

The seven will remain on indefinite probation and their probation officer will monitor their grades and design an individualized service program for them, officials said.

The Plano, Tex., school district has awarded an $8.9 million, three-year contract to a local software firm to develop an unusual, technology-based curriculum for its elementary schools.

The school board awarded the contract this month to Edunetics, a company that already has performed some technology consulting work for the district.

Under the terms of the contract, Edunetics will create 1,100 individual computer-based lessons in mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies, and develop software that allows teachers to grade work electronically.

Under the contract, Edunetics retains proprietary rights to the products it develops for the district, but must pay royalties to the district on its gross sales of the products in other markets.

Vol. 12, Issue extra edition

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