District News Roundup

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The U.S. Education Department has threatened to withhold more than $10 million in special-education funds from the Chicago schools after a report by the office for civil rights found that students were being placed in substandard private facilities and were denied an appropriate education meeting their individual needs.

In some of the nine schools examined by O.C.R. investigators, students were forced to use exposed toilets set up in the classrooms. Other students were bound to poles and wheelchairs for long periods of time.

The report also criticizes the district's special-education-placement procedures.

The Education Department has given the Chicago schools until next month to remedy the conditions listed in the report.

Young Drug Offenders: Six 4th-grade students who were caught carrying small bags of cocaine in their affluent Tampa, Fla., elementary school were suspended this month and placed in an alternative school for first-time offenders.

The students, who range in age from 9 to 11, were arrested and charged with possession of a total of 3.5 grams of cocaine, according to Donna Reed, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County school board. The student who brought the drug to school, and passed it around to classmates, was charged with distribution of the drug. If the students complete the 90-day program, the arrests will not appear on their permanent records, Ms. Reed said.

The cocaine was found when a teacher approached a student who had a "suspicious substance in his pocket,'' Ms. Reed said. After questioning the student, school security officials learned that several students had "passed [the cocaine] around like a hot potato'' during the school day.

According to Ms. Reed, police believe an adult gave the cocaine to the child, who then took it to school.

Vol. 13, Issue 17

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