District News Roundup: Baltimore Mayor Asks Panel For School-Choice Ideas

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Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke of Baltimore has announced he would consider a school-choice plan to improve schools in the beleaguered city district.

Mr. Schmoke asked a nine-member task force, which includes representatives from parent organizations, churches, local universities, and the school board, to consider expanding the magnet school program as well as providing parents with vouchers to send their children to private or parochial schools.

The mayor announced the panel the same week that a Maryland House committee voted to slash $5.9 million in state aid if the district fails to improve its management.

Slashing the Budget

A two-year budget-reduction proposal in Cleveland would lay off up to 160 teachers to help make up for a $73 million shortfall.

In all, 354 positions would be eliminated under Superintendent Richard A. Boyd's plan, announced this month, to cut $52 million from the district's budget, which is currently $535 million. Mr. Boyd predicted attrition would account for 200 positions; the rest would be laid off.

The Cleveland Teachers Union quickly decried the cuts, saying they would "severely damage" the education of district children.

Since last year's court-ordered state takeover, the 73,000-student district has closed 12 schools and reduced after-school activities.

Gender-Equity Lawsuit

The parents of five Tulsa, Okla., girls have sued the district for allegedly discriminating against its female student athletes.

The complaint, filed this month, accuses the district of violating the 1972 federal Title IX law that prohibits schools receiving federal funding from discriminating on the basis of gender. Female athletes in the 42,000-student district are left with older equipment and have fewer opportunities to participate in sports than their male counterparts, a lawyer for the girls' parents said.

David Fist, a lawyer for the district, disagreed. "We believe the district is in substantial compliance with Title IX," he said.

A similar suit was filed in the neighboring Owasso district last month.

School-Repair Teams

School officials in Detroit have organized six repair teams to fix fire-code violations at 106 of the district's s 259 schools.

Surprise inspections last fall uncovered 450 violations, including chained doors, blocked fire exits, and malfunctioning fire alarms. Many of the violations have existed for years, a district spokeswoman said.

Child Charged With Assault

A 6-year-old North Carolina boy has been charged as a juvenile after allegedly assaulting three adults at his school.

The student at Lebanon Road Elementary School, outside Charlotte, kicked the assistant principal on the leg and elbowed two teachers in the stomach, a spokesman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district said. He could be the youngest person in that state charged with assault, police said.

The district spokesman declined to discuss the boy's case, but said the district usually suspends elementary students involved in violent acts.

Student Suicide

A 10th grader shot and killed himself during an algebra class at a North Carolina high school last week.

The 15-year-old boy pulled a 9 mm pistol from his coat in the final minutes of the class March 11 at North Stanly High School in the 7,000-student Stanly County district near Charlotte, authorities said. The teacher then told the other students to leave the room, and they heard a gunshot as they gathered in the hallway outside, sheriff's officials said.

Sheriff Joe E. Lowder said last week that investigators had no motive for the boy's suicide.

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