District News Roundup

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The United Federation of Teachers, along with some parents whose children attend the New York City public schools, has filed a lawsuit against the city to force that repairs be made on what it calls "disgusting, demoralizing, and even dangerous buildings.''

The suit, filed late last month in Supreme Court in Manhattan, also names the city's board of education, and the Buildings and Labor departments.

Sandra Feldman, the president of the U.F.T., said the city, the board, and the two departments failed to maintain safe school buildings. "Our students must learn, and teachers must teach in an environment of crumbling plaster and paint ... filthy, infested cafeterias, exposed electrical wiring ... and stinking, non-functioning lavatories,'' Ms. Feldman said in announcing the suit.

The union last October surveyed its 1,000 school-building representatives about conditions. Sixty percent of the 580 surveys that were returned reported at least one severe or widespread problem. Last September, the start of classes was delayed because of problems with asbestos cleanups.

At the union's request, dozens of parents and teachers last December filed complaints about school buildings.

The U.F.T. has about 120,000 members, including 90,000 who work in the New York City schools.

Plan Ends Busing: The school board of Clark County, Nev., which includes Las Vegas, has approved a new student-assignment plan that will end 20 years of mandatory busing.

The board last month overwhelmingly approved a plan that allows all elementary school students to attend schools in their neighborhoods and sends 6th graders to local middle schools rather than the 6th-grade centers in West Las Vegas where they had been bused.

African-American parents who attended the board meeting have asked for assurances that the district would work to improve schools in predominantly black neighborhoods.

The district's busing program, implemented in response to a 1972 court order, had been criticized as placing an unfair burden on black children.

Student Kills Self in Class: A 17-year-old high school student shot and killed himself inside his first-period classroom at a rural east Texas high school late last month.

Joseph Leon Olivo, a student at Kennard High School in Kennard, 130 miles north of Houston, brandished a rifle shortly after 8 A.M. on Jan. 21 and told the teacher and his classmates that he wanted them to leave because he was going to kill himself, Jimbo Rains, the Houston County sheriff, said.

School officials evacuated that wing of the school and returned to try to talk the student out of shooting himself. Mr. Olivo pointed the rifle at them and told them to leave; shortly afterward, he turned the gun on himself, the sheriff said.

Mr. Olivo left a note in the classroom indicating that he had personal problems and that "he didn't want to live anymore,'' said Sheriff Rains, who gave no further details about the note.

Classes were dismissed the day of the suicide, and counseling was provided to students and staff members.

Mr. Olivo, who apparently slipped the gun into school by hiding it in a pants leg under a heavy coat, had borrowed the rifle from a friend during hunting season, which ended on Jan. 1, Sheriff Rains said.

Sheriff Rains said he knew of no other local incidents of students bringing guns to school.

Vol. 13, Issue 19

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