District News Roundup

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Unannounced locker searches are part of a plan announced last week by District of Columbia school and police officials to combat violence in and around public schools.

School security officers will also set up a fixed checkpoint inside a given school to use hand-held metal detectors to search students, and police officers will set up a place where students can turn in weapons without fear of discipline or criminal charges.

The searches are to begin after the 21-member team of city police and school security personnel have completed two weeks of training. The district's most crime-ridden schools--whether elementary or secondary--will be the first targeted for searches.

In the interest of conforming to "legal precedent,'' school security staff, not police, will search lockers, said Paula Clark Green, a spokeswoman for Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly.

The measures, which Ms. Green said have been planned since last summer, come on the heels of some highly publicized violent incidents--including the beating of a police officer--in the D.C. schools. Earlier this month, on the same day as a shooting in a high school, the Mayor announced another action, also described as long-planned, to add 60 city police officers to patrols at all public schools, in addition to the 38 assigned to patrol secondary schools.

Last week, the president of the American Counseling Association, Beverly J. O'Bryant, called for public officials nationwide to declare a "state of emergency'' to deal with violence in schools and communities.

Computer Suit: An Ohio school district has filed suit alleging that a local company committed breach of contract and fraud because the computers it supplied to the district were faulty and did not meet federal standards.

The Parma school board filed suit late last month against CompNET Systems Inc. of Willowick, Ohio, seeking the return of $300,000 it paid to have the company install about 280 computers in six schools.

District officials say the machines have been plagued by malfunctions, making them virtually unusable for instruction.

Metin Aydin, the president of CompNET, repeatedly has denied that the machines are faulty and has stated that he may file a counter suit against the district.

Eye on Maintenance: Schools Chancellor Ramon C. Cortines of New York City has appointed an independent panel to oversee the city's school-maintenance efforts in the face of steep budget cuts proposed by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. (See Education Week, March 16, 1994.)

The nine-member Commission on School Facilities and Maintenance Reform--which includes real-estate and finance executives, along with a few educators--will study maintenance efforts, monitor reforms, and recommend additional changes.

The United Federation of Teachers filed a lawsuit earlier this year alleging "disgusting'' conditions in the New York City public schools, including "filthy, infested cafeterias ... and stinking, non-functioning lavatories.''

Vol. 13, Issue 26

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