District News Roundup

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Millions of dollars worth of computers, furniture, and business equipment purchased by the Kansas City, Mo., school district since 1989 has either disappeared or never been used, a report by the state attorney general's office concludes.

An investigation that began in January 1994 failed to locate almost 11,000 items. But the investigators did uncover $300,000 worth of furniture purchased with desegregation funds, $20,000 worth of obsolete computers, and a John Deere tractor, among other items. Many of the items had never been used, the report released this month says.

After conducting its own investigation, the district last month acknowledged that computers and business equipment worth $3 million, as well as 1,773 pieces of furniture, were missing.

District officials could not be reached for comment last week.

Betting Ring Broken

Three students at Nutley (N.J.) High School have been charged in connection with an illegal bookmaking operation that allegedly took in as much as $7,500 a week from students and others.

The Essex County prosecutor's office on March 1 charged one 19-year-old and two 17-year-old students with a range of charges including conspiracy to violate state gambling laws, theft by extortion, and terroristic threats.

The 19-year-old student has pleaded not guilty and was released on bond. The two 17-year-olds were released to their parents pending further proceedings.

The students allegedly took bets ranging from $25 to $1,000 on professional and college football and basketball games, as well as on horse racing, said Ray Weiss, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office. Authorities said at least 25 Nutley High students placed illegal bets, including members of the football team.

Seattle Drivers Strike

A union walkout left 12,000 of the Seattle district's 24,000 students searching last week for alternative ways of getting to school.

The strike, by 200 members of Teamsters Local 263 against Laidlaw Transit Inc., which manages bus service under contract to the district, began March 7 after the two sides failed to reach an agreement.

Union bus drivers want a pension plan, which the Toronto-based Laidlaw does not offer to part-time workers. The drivers have been working without a contract since September.

Private Students, Public Buses

The Stafford, Conn., district must provide transportation to local students who attend private, nonprofit schools, even when public schools are not in session, the state education department has ruled.

The decision last month applies only to Stafford, but could affect similar cases in the state, said Ronald Harris, a lawyer for the department. State law requires towns to offer students at private, nonprofit schools the same transportation services as those at public schools.

Parents of parochial school students in Stafford contended that the local school board denied bus service on several days because their schedule did not coincide with the district's, Mr. Harris said.

Administrator Resigns

The personnel director of six eastern Iowa districts will receive $40,000 as part of an agreement to resign amid allegations that he improperly spent thousands of dollars in school funds on entertainment.

State auditors have questioned Jim Humble's purchases of liquor, meals, party supplies, and hotel hospitality suites over a five-year period. No criminal charges were filed, however, and Mr. Humble has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr. Humble, who handled personnel matters for a consortium of six districts for 13 years, has been on paid leave since mid-January, when the irregularities were revealed.

Vol. 14, Issue 25

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