District News Roundup
Superintendent Sammie Campbell Parrish of Cleveland has announced plans to set up in her district Ohio's first charter schools.
In a speech this month to local civic leaders, Ms. Parrish proposed allowing community groups and teams of district staff members to set up public schools that would receive funding from the district but be freed from compliance with most of its rules. She said she hoped as many as three such schools would be in operation by the fall.
District officials acknowledged last week, however, that they had not determined whether such schools are legal.
John M. Goff, a deputy state superintendent, said last week that charter schools are not allowed under current state law. Legislators are drafting a bill to permit charter schools, but a similar measure was shot down last year.
Ms. Parrish also announced plans to assess the district's other schools to determine which are doing well enough to be given more autonomy or poorly enough to require district intervention.
Long Hair Wins
The latest battle in a four-year legal squabble over a student's ponytail has ended with a judge's ruling that a Texas school district wrongly suspended the 8-year-old boy for refusing to cut his hair.
District Court Judge Norman Lanford on Feb. 10 issued a permanent injunction against the Bastrop County district's rule that required hair above the bottom of the collar for boys.
Zachariah Toungate was a 3rd grader when his parents sued the district in 1990. Now 12, Zachariah is being taught at home, said his lawyer, Charles Beall.
The judge awarded Zachariah's mother, September Toungate, $48,000 for lawyer's fees, Mr. Beall said.
"What we hope comes out of this decision is that school officials will have tolerance and respect for the rights of others," he added.
September and Stanley Toungate have not decided whether their son will return to the district's schools, Mr. Beall said.
It was unclear last week whether the Bastrop district planned to appeal. cl Officials there could not be reached for comment.
A technicality in Missouri state law is forcing the 825-student Valley Park school district to hold a vote on a $6.6 million school bond in April, even though voters approved the same proposal last November.
State Auditor Margaret Kelly has refused to register the bonds because the district cannot produce an affidavit proving the election notice was published, as required by state law.
The delay could cost the district up to $680,000 in higher interest rates and construction costs.
Two issues appeared on the Nov. 8 ballot--the bond issue and a waiver of a property-tax rollback.
Both notices were sent to the St. Louis County election board for publication--but only the rollback notice was published. District officials said last week they had been told a clerical error led to the omission.
Controversial Screening Policy
A Minnesota school district's decision to bar the showing of R-rated movies in classrooms has drawn complaints from a teachers' union and a civil-liberties organization.
The Anoka-Hennepin district adopted the policy last month after an art teacher's attempt to show "The Piano" in a high school class drew criticism.
The film, which contains brief nudity and adult themes, was rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America, meaning children under 17 must be accompanied by a parent at theaters.
The Anoka-Hennepin school board also voted to require five days' notice to parents before showing in class a film rated PG-13 by the M.P.A.A.
The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union has threatened a lawsuit over the policy.
"It's a blanket ban, and it doesn't look at the merits of an individual film," said Kathleen Milner, the legal counsel of the M.C.L.U.
The Anoka-Hennepin Education Association has filed a grievance over the policy, arguing that it interferes with teachers' right to select appropriate educational materials.
Vol. 14, Issue 22