District News Roundup

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The New York City schools chancellor has proposed slashing the staff of the troubled schools-facilities division, which was involved this year in an asbestos crisis and a federal racketeering investigation.

The proposal by Ramon C. Cortines to cut 328 positions from the division's 773 technical and administrative posts must be approved by the board of education. The chancellor also is considering removing 19 high-ranking agency officials.

The director of the division, Amy Linden, is on leave. The division's second in command also is expected to leave the division.

Bleacher Collapse: Officials of the Goose Creek school district in southeastern Texas last week were investigating the cause of a bleacher collapse that killed a child.

The accident late last month killed a 5-year-old playing under the stands and injured more than a dozen people who were watching baseball playoffs at Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown.

Debate Over Human 'Alarms': The Cleveland school system has taken heat for using employees as fire monitors in schools where fire alarms are broken.

Debate over the practice arose late last month after two teachers who were acting as fire monitors failed to quickly spot a locker fire at a middle school.

District officials said the use of human fire monitors is allowed under local law, but the Cleveland Teachers Union has attacked the practice. After news reports, district officials said they repaired several alarms and stopped using substitute teachers as fire monitors, instead assigning the task to janitorial personnel.

Boycott Threatened: The Spokane, Wash., chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has threatened to boycott the city's public schools to protest what it considers discriminatory hiring practices.

N.A.A.C.P. leaders also indicated this month that they are trying to shore up support for establishing an all-black school.

About 4 percent of the district's nearly 32,000 students are black. Blacks make up less than 2 percent of the teaching force.

Ice-Cream Conviction Voided: The Georgia court of appeals last week threw out the conviction of a 17-year-old student who was sentenced to three years in prison last year for stealing ice cream from a school cafeteria.

The court, which has ordered a new trial, ruled that Superior Court Judge Andrew Whalen Jr. had neglected to discover whether Dehundra Caldwell was acting voluntarily when the student pleaded guilty last summer. Mr. Caldwell has said he did not steal the ice cream and was coerced into a confession by police.

The Georgia parole board last September commuted Mr. Caldwell's conviction.

Vol. 13, Issue 39

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