District News Roundup

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Indianapolis Plan Seeks End to Student Busing

Indianapolis district officials will ask a federal judge for permission to phase out a desegregation plan that sends about 5,600 of the district's students to schools in neighboring towns.

The school system adopted the transfer policy after a 1971 court ruling in a desegregation case. Since then, the district has made great strides toward ending segregation in its schools, said Michael Rodman, the president of the school board.

The proposal, announced this month by district officials, would begin in the fall of 1997, when no new kindergartners would be transferred. The busing would be phased out over 13 years, ending when 1996 kindergartners graduated from high school.

Officials in the 44,000-student district plan to file their request with U.S. District Judge Hugh Dillin by early June.

Random Drug Testing

School officials in an Indiana district will begin random drug testing this week for high school students there.

Participation in the random testing is voluntary, officials of the Kokomo city schools emphasized. However, students must make themselves available for the tests in order to take part in sports, leave the campus during open lunch, take driver's education, or drive to school.

About half the 1,600 students in the district's only high school have volunteered. Testing will be weekly, said Dave Barnes, a district spokesman.

District Cleared

The Minnesota Supreme Court has cleared a school district and its superintendent of responsibility for an alleged sexual relationship involving a female teacher and a 16-year-old student.

The boy, who was enrolled in three of the teacher's classes, filed suit in December 1992 against the 400-student LaPorte district, former Superintendent Daniel Brooks, and former teacher Lynn Aubert.

Ruling in the civil case, the high court found that officials at LaPorte High School could not have foreseen or detected the teacher's alleged misconduct. The court found that the district took due care in hiring and supervising the teacher, who allegedly had repeated sexual contact with the youth in school and at her home in 1989-90, her first year of teaching.

Teacher Dismissal

The Jefferson County, Colo., school board has fired a teacher who showed his students the film "1900," by Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci.

The board voted unanimously this month to dismiss Alfred E. Wilder, a veteran teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton. The board cited the teacher's pattern of tardiness and leaving his classes unattended, in addition to showing classes last year the 1977 film, which includes scenes of nudity and violence.

A hearing officer had ruled last month that Mr. Wilder should not be fired because the district's policies on seeking approval of controversial learning materials were vague. But that ruling was not binding on the school board.

"Mr. Wilder should have known that administrative approval should be obtained before the use of a R-rated film containing nudity, sexual conduct, drug use, and violence," the board said in a resolution dismissing the teacher.

Mr. Wilder, who is being represented by the Colorado Education Association, has said he will take the matter to court.

Not a Prayer

A District of Columbia superior court judge has blocked a ballot initiative that would authorize voluntary school prayer in the city's public schools.

Judge Geoffrey M. Alprin ruled this month that the prayer initiative proposed by a group of Washington residents would "undeniably" violate U.S. Supreme Court rulings against school prayer.

The judge said the court had the power to block proposed initiatives that are "patently unconstitutional." The initiative's backers, as well as the city's board of elections and ethics, had argued that the measure should be allowed to go on the ballot because it was not patently unconstitutional.

Mother Charged in Truancies

A Mississippi woman has pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of minors after her two children each missed more than 30 days of school this year.

The arrest of the woman earlier this month was the first in a countywide crackdown on truancy. Warren County prosecutor Johnny Price expects to prosecute another 15 to 20 parents on similar charges this month.

"This was not an arbitrary arrest," Mr. Price said. "The truancy officer has worked with the mother and repeatedly told her that these children must attend school.... This was a gross failure on this mother's part."

The 27-year-old Vicksburg woman, who was not identified, received a 10-day jail sentence, which was suspended on the condition that her 3rd-grade daughter and 1st-grade son attend school every day for the remainder of the year and enroll in summer school.

If they miss school, their mother will go to jail. Mr. Price has also threatened to ask the department of human services to take custody of the children if they miss another day.

Vol. 15, Issue 30

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