N.Y.C. Chief Could Receive Power To Discipline Boards

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The New York City schools chancellor could receive expanded powers to discipline suspended community school board members even after they have been re-elected.

New York state lawmakers have introduced legislation to allow the chancellor to keep suspended board members from taking their seats for up to one year. Lawmakers worry that, without such a law, several board members recently suspended by Chancellor Rudy F. Crew would simply be re-elected to their positions.

New York's 32 community school boards are elected to choose superintendents and principals for the 980,000-student district's elementary, middle, and junior high schools. Mr. Crew in recent months has suspended members of four boards on allegations such as gross mismanagement or corruption.

Recruiting White Students

The Kansas City, Mo., district can no longer spend state desegregation money to recruit white students to improve its schools' racial balance, a federal judge has ruled.

Citing last year's Supreme Court ruling forbidding the use of desegregation money to recruit students, U.S. District Judge Russell G. Clark this month barred the district from its practice of spending as much as $1 million a year on advertising to attract white students from the suburbs and the city's private schools.

Federal law allows the district to continue to market its magnet school programs to students within the district, Judge Clark said.

Improper Test Preparation

The Indianapolis district has invalidated the scores of 300 6th graders after learning their teachers improperly prepared them for a state exam with questions nearly identical to those on the test.

Seven teachers at three middle schools in the 44,000-student district used old tests and similar exams from another state as study aids, violating the Indiana code of testing practices.

The principals at each of the schools alerted Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas of the problem earlier this month when students recognized some questions on the test.

The superintendent said the teachers had not fully reviewed the testing code. A statement released by Ms. Zendejas did not say what disciplinary action the teachers might face.

Overtime Pay Questioned

A report by the New York City comptroller questions the amount of overtime paid to hundreds of custodial helpers in the city's schools in 1994. Such pay totaled as much as $40 million that year, the audit found.

The 337 helpers targeted in the investigation, hired by custodians to do extra clean-up and maintenance work, claimed to work an average of 18 to 57 hours a week above their regular 40-hour shift, the report released this month says. Some workers said they put in 100 hours a week, and several submitted timecards for work performed at the same time in different locations.

The school board intends to implement oversight procedures recommended in the report by the end of the year, said Lewis H. Spence, the district's deputy chancellor.

Accessible Buildings

The Chicago school system has agreed to make its magnet schools more accessible to students with mobility impairments.

Under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights, the 415,000-student district will make its magnet schools fully accessible to disabled students by 2001. It has allocated $6.5 million to make the necessary building modifications.

The agreement stems from a 1994 complaint filed by disability- and civil-rights groups in Chicago that charged that only seven of the city's 45 magnet schools were fully accessible. The OCR stopped its investigation of the complaint when the district agreed to make changes.

Athletic Restrictions

The Chicago school board has proposed new restrictions on student athletes who transfer within or to the district.

The draft amendment to the district's high school athletic association bylaws requires transfer students to apply for eligibility before they can participate in sports at their new schools. Historically, the system has made no review of such students' eligibility, and students have been recruited solely on their athletic ability, said J.W. Smith, the district's director of athletics.

Fixed Games Alleged

A former basketball player at a Virginia high school has alleged that gamblers regularly approached players about fixing games.

The player, now a freshman at a junior college in Kansas, played at Norfolk's Maury High School last season. He said players had been approached by gamblers to throw basketball game, but that no Maury High School player had ever taken a bribe.

The allegations came as Norfolk police have been investigating claims of a fixed playoff game between Maury High and Green Run High School in the Virginia Beach district.

Wrestler Stabbed

Officials at a Wyoming middle school have disbanded the wrestling team for the rest of the season after one of its members stabbed a wrestler on an opposing team.

A wrestler for Worland Middle School in the Washakie County school district stabbed Jerry Dunks, 15, a wrestler at Cody Middle School in the Park County district, in the chest with a switchblade during a tournament this month, police said Dunks will recover.

The suspect was charged as a juvenile and released to the custody of his parents.

The Washakie County district suspended nine other Worland middle school wrestlers for carrying weapons to school or school events.

Cleared of Charges

A Pittsburgh-area teacher has been cleared of allegations that she induced a female student to accuse her parents of sexual abuse.

Priscilla Zappa, a high school social studies teacher at Mount Lebanon High School, was found innocent earlier this month in a three-year-old civil lawsuit. Two parents had accused Ms. Zappa of persuading their daughter to file criminal charges against them in 1991.

The girl later recanted her stories of abuse and reconciled with her parents after living in several foster homes, including Ms. Zappa's.

Paddling Charge

A principal at a New Hampshire private school has been charged with simple assault after allegedly spanking a 4-year-old student with a paddle so hard that the boy's buttocks were bruised.

Paul Edgar, the principal of Tri-City Christian Academy in Somersworth, was charged last month with the misdemeanor.

School officials did not return phone calls last week.

Backing for Teacher

A Colorado high school teacher should not be dismissed for showing his students the R-rated film "1900," a hearing officer has recommended.

Officials of the Jefferson County school district sought to dismiss Alfred E. Wilder, after he showed parts of the controversial 1977 Italian epic to a class at Columbine High School in Littleton.

In a March 14 ruling, however, a hearing officer said the school's policies for controversial materials were vague, and recommended that Mr. Wilder be retained.

The ruling is not binding on the school board, which has until early April to act to dismiss, suspend, or retain Mr. Wilder, a district spokeswoman said last week.

Vol. 15, Issue 27

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