District News Roundup

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The Yonkers, N.Y., school system has failed to desegregate due to inadequate state funding, a federal judge ruled last week.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Leonard B. Sand cleared the way for the district to seek more money from the state. But he left to be decided in a trial this fall how much more the state should be required to pay.

The judge's finding that the district has not fully desegregated was based not on the racial composition of classrooms, but on such factors as racial disparities in academic achievement.

The district has made great strides in racially balancing its classrooms since being ordered to desegregate in 1986, Judge Sand noted. But, he said, "although minority students in Yonkers attend school in the same buildings as majority students, they are undergoing different educational experiences.''

The fact that similar disparities in achievement occur elsewhere across the nation does not excuse the Yonkers district from seeking to eliminate them, Judge Sand said. Instead, the district should borrow the remedies others have developed, he added.

The judge agreed with assertions by the Yonkers school board and the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that the district had done what it could to remedy the problem, but lacked adequate funding for teacher training and facilities.

A federal judge has upheld a desegregation plan proposed by the Columbus-Muscogee County, Ga., school board.

The plaintiffs had sought an injunction against the plan, which was designed to allow more students to attend school closer to their homes, because they believe it will contribute to racial disparities in the enrollments of schools.

In denying the plaintiffs' request, Judge J. Robert Elliott said overturning the district plan would be disruptive and would make mandatory busing necessary.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to hear the case on appeal.

Members of a local school council in Lake County, Fla., were scheduled to go to court late last week to ask a judge to bar the district school board from amending the council's school-improvement plan.

The parents and teachers of the Seminole Springs Elementary School council filed suit against the Lake County school board after it voided portions of their plan calling for a preschool program and the use of portfolios to assess kindergartners and 1st and 2nd graders.

Council members contend that by amending their plan, the school board violated the state's new education-reform law. The law, they say, limits school boards to simply accepting or rejecting such plans.

The school board maintains that it retains ultimate control of the schools.

A legal opinion issued by the state education department's chief counsel backs the parents and teachers.

The reform effort, which was approved by the legislature in 1991, is to be implemented in classrooms this fall.

A 24-year employee of the Prince George's County, Md., schools was fired last month for allegedly stealing more than $400,000 from the district.

Eugene Carbaugh, an accounts-payable officer for the school system, is thought to have misappropriated funds for at least seven years. As investigations by the district and the police continue, school officials said, the total missing may increase.

The county police are investigating the former official for possible embezzlement, but no charges have been filed against him. Lieut. Charles Pollock, a police spokesman, called the investigation "a very long process'' of checking bank and school records.

Mr. Carbaugh has not commented on the allegations.

Vol. 13, Issue 01

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