District News Roundup

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Officials of a suburban Cleveland school district that had refused to name a senior-class valedictorian because of a dispute between its top two students was ordered by a judge this month to place somebody at the top of the class.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Patrick Curran told the Parma school board to choose a valedictorian after a lawsuit was filed by the father of a senior girl who, according to court documents, claimed to have accumulated more quality points than her rival through extra independent-study courses.

The other student had a slightly higher grade-point average.

The board met again and decided to make the students co-valedictorians.

Board members left to the senior-class officers the sticky decision of which students will speak--or if they will appoint someone else--at Normandy High School's June 8 commencement.

Board members said they will review the system of how quality-effort points are awarded in the hope of avoiding future academic deadlocks among high achievers.

Teacher Hiring Challenged: The Providence, R.I., public schools' practice of hiring full-time teachers from their pool of "longtime substitutes'' is discriminatory, a complaint filed last month by the American Civil Liberties Union's Rhode Island affiliate contends.

In addition, the A.C.L.U. affiliate argues, the practice is responsible for the district's relatively small number of minority teachers.

Although roughly 70 percent of the district's students come from minority groups, all but 12 percent of the teachers are white.

According to the complaint, which the civil-rights group filed with the commission for human rights in Rhode Island, many of the minority teachers are reluctant to take the substitute jobs because they are lower paying and often lack benefits.

Providence is the only district in the state to use such a hiring mechanism, said Steven Brown, the executive director of the A.C.L.U. affiliate.

"Providence is losing because of the policy,'' Mr. Brown said. He added that qualified minority teaching candidates who would like to work in Providence end up teaching elsewhere because of the hiring policy.

Mr. Brown said his group expected to receive a response to the complaint from the human-rights commission in a month or two.

Vol. 13, Issue 35

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