District News Roundup

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The Syracuse, N.Y., school district voted last month not to honor a parent's "do not resuscitate'' request for a seriously ill student.

The school board ruled that the request not to resuscitate the student if he stopped breathing was not a valid medical order.

The board may vote again on the request after a committee of school nurses, medical administrators, the district's lawyer, board members, and the district's special-education administrator meets to discuss the case. A similar committee will be set up to deal with future resuscitation cases.

In Lewiston, Maine, school district officials also formed a committee to consider do-not-resuscitate requests on a case-by-case basis after months of wrestling with their first such request. (See Education Week, Nov. 10, 1993.)

Unlike the Lewiston case, however, the Syracuse student has requested that he not be resuscitated if he stops breathing.

The child is "completely aware'' that he is dying and that resuscitation attempts would likely worsen his condition, Paulette Johnson, the board president, said.

And in Florida, the Osceola County district recently denied a D.N.R. request.

Superintendent Chris Colombo said last month that the district will retain its policy of calling 911 to request medical help when a child goes into cardiac arrest or stops breathing, despite the parents' request that their profoundly disabled child not be resuscitated.

Disney's School Offer: The Walt Disney Company has offered land for two public schools, a library, and recreation fields as part of its proposal to build Disney's America, an entertainment complex with a historical theme in northern Virginia.

Disney has options to buy a 3,000-acre site near Haymarket, Va., about 35 miles west of Washington, of which only a portion would be used by the proposed theme park. Disney last month offered 73 acres of the land for public purposes, such as schools and a wetlands area, as part of the rezoning application for the property.

'Zero Tolerance' for Violence: Students who are violent or abusive may be expelled or transferred to an alternative school under a policy adopted by the El Paso Independent School District.

In an effort to quell a growing number of violent incidents on school grounds, the Texas district last month approved a policy of "zero tolerance.'' The new policy toughens penalties for students who attack or verbally abuse teachers, fellow students, or school workers.

The rule narrows the options administrators have to deal with disruptive students. Under the previous policy, if a student assaulted a teacher, punishment would be based on the severity of the assault; now, a student would be expelled immediately and reported to local police.

Detroit 'Choice' Scores Drop: Students enrolled in Detroit's "schools of choice'' program scored lower on standardized achievement tests after a year in the specialized schools, a study by the Detroit school board found last month.

In the first evaluation of the city's school-choice programs since they were launched in 1991, researchers found that 61 percent of the 3,805 students who took the California Achievement Test earned lower test scores in reading and mathematics during the 1992-93 school year than they had the year before entering the schools.

The study prompted a debate over the 13 schools of choice, which specialize in subjects such as science, arts, or international studies.

"Certainly, this [study] shows that while choice schools may be one component of our educational mix, it is not something strong enough to build our overall program on,'' said April Howard Coleman, the president of the Detroit school board.

But supporters of school choice argue that the positive aspects of the study have been ignored. While standardized test scores have fallen, improvements were recorded in overall grade-point averages, attendance rates, teacher satisfaction, and parental involvement, they said.

Appeal in Doubt: The Philadelphia school board appears to have backed off its plan to appeal a state court's ruling that ordered the school system be overhauled to stop shortchanging minority students.

Rotan E. Lee, the board's president, told members last week that he wanted to cooperate with a team of experts being appointed by the court to develop a plan to improve education for minorities. Mr. Lee, who initially said the board would appeal the order, did not rule out taking such action if talks break down. (See Education Week, Feb. 16, 1994.)

Vol. 13, Issue 23

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