District News Roundup

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Sandra Feldman, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, has called for creating a new category of "master teachers'' who would be paid more than other teachers in New York City.

To establish advanced standards for these teachers and certify that they have met them, Ms. Feldman proposed creating a commission for professional teaching standards that would model itself after the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

In her remarks April 4 at the union's spring conference, Ms. Feldman said such a system would be "objective,'' thus distinguishing it from "the wholly discredited concept of merit pay.''

Such a system would reward experienced teachers and provide an incentive for them to continue teaching, she said, noting that the city is projected to need an additional 15,000 teachers in the next eight years.

Union officials said they hoped the proposal would be considered during contract negotiations. New York City teachers have been working without a contract since September.

A New York City high-school senior accused of cheating on the Scholastic Aptitude Test has filed a lawsuit against the Educational Testing Service, the organization that administers the test.

Brian Dalton, an 18-year-old student at Holy Cross High School in Queens, took the S.A.T. in May and November of last year. His November combined score was 1,030, up from a score of 620 in May.

An E.T.S. review board subsequently notified Mr. Dalton that it questioned the significant gain in his scores. It gave him the option of taking the test again, receiving a refund for the second test fee, or seeking arbitration.

Mr. Dalton contends that his improved performance followed a review course he took before the November testing.

An E.T.S. spokesman said that while a significant gain in test scores is not automatically grounds for an investigation, there are unspecified "significant other grounds'' in this case.

The organization has not lost any of the 15 test-score-related lawsuits filed since the mid-1970's, officials said. Approximately 1,800 of the 1.8 million students who take the test annually are questioned over test-score increases.

In the suit, Mr. Dalton charges that the E.T.S. breached its "contract'' with him by failing to properly investigate the charges and that it refused to release his scores.

The Princeton Review, which provides the six-week review course Mr. Dalton took, is covering half the legal fees incurred by the suit. Confident that Mr. Dalton will win a precedent-setting case, the firm's president, John Katzman, lambasted the E.T.S. for what he called the "arbitrary nature'' of the investigation.

The case is scheduled to be heard before a state court in May.

The number of student-expulsion referrals has climbed 28 percent over a five-year period in the Los Angeles Unified School District, with incidents that involved possession of weapons increasing 36 percent in that time.

Between the 1986-87 school year and the 1990-91 year, referrals for expulsion rose from 696 to 889, district records show.

The number of times weapons possession was given as the reason increased from 330 in 1986-87 to 519 last year.

More frequent weapons possession by students was "one of the major reasons'' expulsion referrals increased over the five years, said Hector Madrigal, the coordinator of the district's student-discipline proceedings.

In 1990-91, weapons possession accounted for one-half, or 519, of the 1,036 reasons given for referral. Some students were expelled for more than one reason.

Twenty-seven percent of the referrals were prompted by assaults or battery.

But referrals involving drugs decreased 23 percent over the five years and went down by 14 percent between 1989-90 and last year--from 211 to 181 instances, records show.

Fifty-eight percent of the weapons referrals involved middle-school students, 38 percent involved those in high school, and 3.6 percent pertained to elementary-school students, according to the district.

A business manager for a Massachusetts school district has been charged with embezzling more than $600,000.

Anthony J. Katter Jr., 49, of Worcester, Mass., is the director of business affairs for the 2,300-student Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District. He was arrested after a two-week investigation by state and local authorities.

Mr. Katter is accused of 16 counts of larceny involving amounts of more than $250 during the past year. During that time, he allegedly siphoned money from various district operating accounts, as well as checks intended as payment by local municipalities to the school district. Mr. Katter is suspected of depositing these funds in a district account with his home address.

"The charges against this defendant are particularly serious because of the shortage of resources faced by most local municipalities, and he allegedly violated the public trust for his personal financial gain,'' said State Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, who announced the arrest.

Mr. Katter pleaded not guilty at his arraignment and was held on $30,000 bail. He has been suspended from his job and is scheduled to appear for a pretrial conference in Worcester District Court.

The East Chicago, Ind., school board has ratified a new teachers' contract to end a 15-day teacher strike in the district.

Teachers in the district voted late last month to ratify a contract agreement reached during a marathon bargaining session.

The district's 420 teachers had been on strike since March 9, despite a state law that prohibits teacher strikes and a judge's order that they return to work.

Under the new contract, East Chicago teachers will receive a 4.5 percent pay raise for 1992 and an additional 5.5 percent increase next year.

One sticking point in the negotiations had been higher health-insurance costs for teachers. The contract includes some money to offset those increases, as well as more money for instructional supplies, according to officials of the East Chicago Federation of Teachers Local 511.

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