District News Roundup

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Almost a decade after leaving the National Education Association and its state affiliate, the leadership of the Milwaukee teachers' union wants to return to the fold.

The executive board of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association voted to rejoin the N.E.A. last month, but the union's 6,300 members must still approve the move in a vote scheduled for February.

Local leaders have argued that re-affiliation would give them access to the larger organizations' research and make them partners in state and federal lobbying efforts. But they conceded last week that the idea is likely to meet resistance, because it could double their members' $348 annual dues.

The M.T.E.A. split from the N.E.A. in 1974 in a dispute over local control of actions such as strikes. An M.T.E.A. spokesman last week said the state organization is now offering his local far more autonomy.

The superintendent of the Anne Arundel County, Md., schools has resigned in the wake of a report that concluded he had mishandled at least nine sets of sexual-misconduct and child-abuse charges against school employees since 1985.

C. Berry Carter 2nd, a 39-year employee of the district, submitted his resignation last month before the school board considered his employment status. The board had not requested his resignation, district officials said.

The cases allegedly mishandled by Mr. Carter include 1987 complaints against Ronald Price, a former social-studies teacher at Northeast High School who was convicted on three counts of child sexual abuse and sentenced last month to 26 years in prison. (See Education Week, Oct. 20, 1993.)

In a 47-page written reply to the 28-page report by a lawyer for the school board, Mr. Carter and his lawyer said that, without today's "heightened state of awareness and attention'' to child sexual abuse, in past years "there was a different interpretation of the language of the law.''

Meanwhile, the Maryland state board of education is expected to approve a proposal that would strengthen its ability to suspend or revoke the licenses of teachers accused of sexual misconduct.

Chicago's school board president has ordered an investigation after a public high school hosted an awards ceremony for gang leaders during a five-day "gang summit'' in the city last month.

"Something is wrong in our society when our leadership legitimizes these thugs as role models,'' Sharon Grant, the school board's president, reportedly said.

Ms. Grant ordered Warner Birts, the principal of Englewood High School, where a community group issued the awards, to investigate the incident, said David Rudd, a spokesman for the school district.

Mr. Birts said he did not realize that gang members would be involved in the event.

Once the gang members and their friends arrived, Mr. Rudd said, school officials had to weigh the consequences of not letting the crowd of more than 2,500 people into the hall.

No disciplinary action against Mr. Birts or those involved is expected.

Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly of the District of Columbia has reintroduced a proposal to establish a secure, residential school for juvenile delinquents as part of an anti-crime initiative she unveiled last month.

District of Columbia officials rejected a similar proposal two years ago.

School officials said the Mayor is considering using a vacant school building for the alternative school, which would house up to 50 juvenile offenders at a time.

"There are a lot of kids that are in trouble that need special attention, and we don't have the resources to help them,'' said Charlie R. Miller, a spokesman for the school system. "Separating them is right in some cases, because you can't penalize those [students] who are not having difficulty.''

As part of her violence-reduction strategy, the Mayor also proposed that the school board adopt a delinquency-prevention curriculum and after-school programs. The city council is expected soon to consider the plan, which also includes a proposal to prosecute 14-year-olds as adults.

A group of parents in Baltimore County, Md., last month appealed to Gov. William Donald Schaefer to oust their superintendent and appoint a new school board after school officials demoted or transferred nearly 40 principals and restructured the county's special-education program.

Under state law, the county school board appoints the superintendent, but the governor has the authority to remove the superintendent in cases of gross misconduct.

The plea to Mr. Schaefer came after a federal judge dismissed a suit filed by parents against the school system to stop implementation of the new special-education program.

The parents object to an "inclusion'' program under which 350 disabled students were transferred into regular classrooms this fall, according to Bill Lawrence, Baltimore County's assistant superintendent.

In the lawsuit, the parents argued that they were not allowed sufficient time to review the new arrangement and that it is inadequate to meet the needs of the children.

The son of Superintendent of Schools Paul Vance of Montgomery County, Md., is among four students from the district who were arrested on rape charges involving two teenage girls.

Paul Vance Jr., 16, was among five young men, ages 15 to 19, charged with rape after the 14-year-old girls said they were assaulted in two separate incidents, one of which allegedly took place at the Vance home.

The younger Mr. Vance's mother was at home at the time of the alleged attack, said Montgomery County Police Cpl. Ron Collins, but his father apparently was not.

The young men were members of a loose-knit gang called the Chronics, named after a slang term for marijuana, police said.

All but one of the suspects, a 19-year-old who is incarcerated on an unrelated weapons charge, are students at Seneca Valley High School. The students were released to the custody of their parents and are currently receiving home instruction, said Brian Porter, a spokesman for the district. He said that Superintendent Vance would not comment.

The Miami police department is once again responding to burglar alarms at eight Dade County schools after initially revoking their alarm licenses for failure to pay fines for false alarms.

After Police Chief Calvin Ross learned that school alarms set off by actual break-ins and vandalism were being ignored, the police resumed "responding to all school alarms regardless of the cause,'' according to Raymond P. Lang, a spokesman for the department.

The five elementary and three high schools each owed between $50 and $2,025 in fines.

There is no charge for the first five false alarms at a location, but fines for subsequent incidents start at $25 and later jump to as much as $500 per incident.

One school has paid its $50 fine, and school officials are negotiating with police over how much the others should pay.

A New Jersey principal confronted an armed man in a hallway of his elementary school late last month and persuaded the gunman to leave.

George Hirschberg, the principal of School No. 10 in Paterson, was in the midst of dismissing his 950 students when he saw a man run into the school followed by another man brandishing a gun.

Mr. Hirschberg, 50, a 30-year veteran of the district, ran into the building and faced the gunman in a hallway filled with children.

"I asked him to leave,'' said Mr. Hirschberg. "I reminded him that guns weren't allowed in the building.''

The assailant left the building and was captured by police, who said the chase was related to a drug dispute.

Mr. Hirschberg said he received a letter of apology last week from the suspect, who is in jail pending payment of $300,000 bail.

Vol. 13, Issue 10

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