District News Roundup

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Hundreds of Detroit Teaches Reassigned to Improve Ratios

The Detroit school board has reassigned several hundred teachers to help equalize student-teacher ratios in the city's schools.

Ninety-nine percent of the teachers affected have been reassigned or kept as "teachers at large." The remaining teachers were laid off in the reorganization effort that took effect last week.

Superintendent David Snead said that while Detroit public high schools are overstaffed, some elementary and middle schools have staffing shortages, with student-teacher ratios of up to 35 to 1. The state's goal is to have no more than 30 students in a classroom.

Arson Acquittal

A federal jury in Alabama has acquitted a man accused of burning down a high school whose principal had discouraged interracial couples from attending the prom.

Christopher Lynn Johnson, 25, was found not guilty late last month of arson and possession of a destructive device in connection with 1994 fire that destroyed Randolph County High School in Wedowee. Mr. Johnson is the son of a leader of protests by local blacks that occurred after Principal Hulond Humphries, who is white, condemned interracial dating at the school. The fire followed months of racial turmoil over the comments by the principal, who has since been reassigned.

La. Innovation Rewarded

A high school in Louisiana that merges welfare and school reform has received a 1995 Innovations in American Government Award.

The $100,000 award to the Hamilton Terrace Learning Center, located in Shreveport's Caddo Parish school district, was announced last month. The school places in the same classes adult learners on welfare and at-risk high school youths. The idea is that the adult students will urge their younger classmates to take school seriously.

The award was one of 15 presented this year by the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University as part of an annual program honoring innovative public agencies.

Security Official Arrested

A New York City public school security official has been arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle six pounds of cocaine into the United States.

Heriberto Collazo, the supervisor of school security for Community School District 10 in the Bronx, was arrested last month at a Puerto Rico airport. The cocaine was found inside a computer monitor that Mr. Collazo had allegedly checked onto the plane, according to customs officials.

Mr. Collazo, who was unavailable for comment, was responsible for security at several Bronx schools but had recently been suspended without pay for chronic absenteeism, according to school officials.

Moving Sale

A Minnesota town that hopes to boost the tax base for its schools is offering to give free lots to people who want to build homes there.

City officials of Rothsay approved the plan in September to stimulate its tax base and to reverse a trend of population and business decline in the town.

The influx of residents would boost the city tax base by about $400 per house, officials from the 260-student district say.

Arbitration Agreement

The Madison, Wis., teachers' union abandoned plans for a districtwide "sick-out" day when the union reached an agreement with the district to seek arbitration.

Madison Teachers Inc. and the district agreed to an arbitration process in which a third-party negotiator from another state will evaluate the contract offers on both sides. Arbitration sessions began last week.

Teachers in the 25,000-student district had been prepared to take a sick day on Oct. 20 to protest the lack of progress in negotiations with the district.

Leave a Message

Students and parents in Indiana now have more open lines of communication with their teachers, thanks to a new interactive voice-mail system in 67 schools there.

TeleParent allows parents and teachers to communicate by voice mail about students' progress, homework and test information, and attendance. Students can use TeleParent to review homework assignments with their teachers. Over 41,000 students and their parents last month received access to the system, which was piloted in 13 schools two years ago.

The system, provided free to schools, is the result of a partnership among Parent Power, a nonprofit advocacy organization, the local phone company, and a local television station.

Vol. 15, Issue 09

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