District News Roundup

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Milwaukee Halts $3.2 Million Textbook-Selection Process

Milwaukee's public schools have stopped the selection process for $3.2 million worth of elementary school textbooks after learning book suppliers had received leaked information on their selection-committee rankings.

"We have information leading us to believe that many publishers knew their rankings, and the integrity of the process has been breached," said Denise Callaway, a spokeswoman for the 103,000-student district.

Officials have not decided whether to take disciplinary action against staff members who might have leaked the information.

Backpack Ban

An 8th grader in New Jersey must obey a rule against wearing backpacks to school until officials have reviewed the ban, the state education commissioner has ruled.

The ban, which went into effect at the beginning of this semester, forbids students to wear backpacks in school during the day. School officials have cited safety reasons, claiming students might be injured by tripping over backpacks or bumping into them.

The school board for the 2,600-student Bernards Township district last month asked Commissioner Leo Klagholz for a ruling to resolve the controversy. In the meantime, he has banned Elyse Meredith, who thinks the ban is "a ridiculous rule," from wearing her backpack during school hours.

Title IX Lawsuit

A gender-equity lawsuit has been filed against an Oklahoma district on behalf of female athletes who claim they have been denied equal opportunities to participate in school-sponsored sports.

The girls and their parents in the Owasso district, outside Tulsa, claim they receive inferior equipment, supplies, uniforms, scheduling, travel, coaching, and publicity. They also allege the district has provided boys' teams with a high-quality baseball field and a new football stadium but has refused to provide a comparable facility for the girls' softball team, which won the state championship last season.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funds, has typically been cited in lawsuits against colleges and universities. But now plaintiffs also appear to be pursuing cases at the high school level.

Owasso officials did not return phone calls last week.

Director Weighs In

A teacher in Golden, Colo., who faces dismissal for showing an R-rated film to his students during class has received some support from the film's Italian director, Bernardo Bertolucci.

Mr. Bertolucci sent a written statement from Rome that was read in behalf of the Columbine High School teacher, Al Wilder, at last week's court hearing. Mr. Wilder was placed on leave last March and could be fired for showing the movie "1900" to his senior English class last March without clearing the film with the principal.

The 1977 film--which depicts sex, violence, and drug use--helped Mr. Wilder teach his class, Mr. Wilder's lawyer said.

Wrongful-Death Suit

The mother of a 13-year-old girl fatally stabbed outside her Rochester, N.Y., middle school has sued the school district and others, seeking $15 million in damages for wrongful death.

The lawsuit filed in a state court this month alleges that the Rochester district was negligent in its handling of the student who allegedly stabbed Stephne Givens last September. The girl was confronted as she got off a school bus at Jefferson Middle School by another female student, who allegedly stabbed her in the neck.

The suit also names the city of Rochester, the National School Bus Service, the alleged assailant, and her mother.

Vol. 15, Issue 23

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