Districts News Roundup

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Native American Students Allege Racial Harassment

A group of Native American students at a Roosevelt, Utah, high school have charged that they are targets of racism on their school's campus.

About 40 of Union High School's 140 Native American students joined a peaceful walkout at the end of September to protest what they called unequal treatment by school officials and their peers, Principal Lloyd A. Burton said. About 12 percent of the school's 1,100 students are Native American.

Students have called for the district to adopt a policy on verbal harassment. Mr. Burton said that is still being discussed.

The school's policy of automatically suspending a student who hits another has worsened the situation, he said. Mr. Burton cited a recent scenario where a Native American student was suspended after hitting another student, even though he said he had been provoked by racial jeers.

Some school officials attributed the racial tensions to recent court proceedings on a longstanding dispute between tribal leaders and some area residents over who owns land that was once a part of the Uintah-Ouray Ute reservation.

"It's polarized the community, and those feelings have filtered into the school," Mr. Burton said.

School-Supply Scam

Six current and former officials of the New York City school system have been charged with bribery and other offenses in connection with the purchase of school supplies.

Edward F. Stancik, the independent special commissioner of investigation for New York City school system, announced the charges this month following a 22-month probe.

Mr. Stancik alleged that district officials took payoffscq amher sd from vendors and, in exchange, certified they had received school supplies that actually were not delivered. The $125,000 that has been recovered likely accounts for just a fraction of what was pilfered each year, he said.

Chancellor Ramon C. Cortines issued a statement saying he will dismiss the employees and bar the vendors who have been implicated. He also said the school system has made changes in its purchasing and inventory-control procedures recommended by Mr. Stancik.

Voodoo Book

Officials of the St. Tammany Parish school board in Covington, La., plan to appeal a federal judge's ruling that the book "Voodoo and Hoodoo" cannot arbitrarily be removed from school libraries.

U.S. District Judge Patrick Carr ruled earlier this month in favor of two families and the American Civil Liberties Union. They had sued the school board, claiming that it had violated the U.S. Constitution when it banned the book.

The judge did not deem the issue worthy of trial, but stipulated that students borrow the book from the reserve section of the school libraries only with a parent's permission.

Despite that condition, board members voted 8 to 5 to appeal the decision.

"Two-thirds of the book contains directions, potions, and recipes on how to kill, maim, lie, steal, or devalue life," said Calvin Campeaux Jr., a board member. "It has no educational value."

But Kelly Haggar, a Slidell, La., resident, said he sees little harm in the book. "I showed it to my 10-year-old, and he burst out laughing," he said.

Just Desserts

A Georgia youth who stole ice cream has watched his fears of imprisonment melt away.

Dehundra Caldwell, 17, had previously been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing ice cream bars from an Upson County middle school cafeteria. The sentence provoked cries of racism, drew national attention, and led to a successful appeal and other legal maneuvers by Mr. Caldwell's lawyers.

Late last month, rather than again face a felony burglary charge, Mr. Caldwell pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of trespassing. He was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and was fined $600.

Vol. 14, Issue 08

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