District News Roundup: Three Wis. Teens Charged With Selling Ritalin

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Three teenagers in a rural Wisconsin school district have been charged with illegally selling or distributing Ritalin to elementary and middle school students.

The students were expelled this month from Palmyra-Eagle High School and Palmyra-Eagle Middle School and charged with a felony. Seven other teenagers in the 1,300-student Palmyra-Eagle district, who were charged with illegal possession of the drug, have been suspended and ordered to perform community service.

Ritalin, the brand name of a drug used to treat attention-deficit disorder, can have a stimulant effect on those who do not have the disorder.

Right to Privacy

A student has filed a lawsuit against the Montgomery County, Md., schools after a substitute teacher revealed to some classmates that the teenager was infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

In the $100,000 civil suit filed in circuit court this month, the teenager, who has since transferred to another school, charged the 120,000-student district with failing to protect his right to privacy under state law.

The teacher disclosed the student's condition as some classmates were sharing lip balm. She told them to stop, noting that a student in the class was HIV-positive, according to the youth's lawyer, Stewart Andrew Sutton.

"The teacher showed profound ignorance in how AIDS is transmitted," Mr. Sutton said last week. The student wasn't in class that day, he said.

The teacher's remark "was a well-intentioned but inappropriate disclosure of personal information," said Brian J. Porter, a spokesman for the district. Mr. Porter said the teacher will be reprimanded.

No trial date has been set.

Improper Grade Changes

A former assistant principal in Fort Wayne, Ind., made improper grade changes for 26 students over a three-year period, an investigation by the district has found.

The district last month completed a grade audit of Elmhurst High School following allegations of grade altering by Lee Ann Hart-Hoover, who has since resigned.

School officials have reviewed all grade, course, and credit changes made by Ms. Hart-Hoover over the past three years. They have informed all students affected by the changes, including two students who have already graduated, that they will need to make up the required courses.

Following the audit, district officials recommended new grade-change procedures, including allowing only the school registrar to make such changes.

Tax Authority Questioned

The Pittsburgh City Council wants state lawmakers to give it power to veto property-tax increases levied by the school district.

The council this month passed a nonbinding resolution asking the Pennsylvania legislature for such authority. Both the city and the 40,000-student district can levy property taxes.

The council's move followed discussions by the district that it might raise property taxes to help fill a projected $37 million shortfall in the district budget. School officials will seek additional state funding and may trim expenses before imposing additional taxes, a district spokeswoman said.

Proposed Sales Tax Upheld

The South Carolina Supreme Court has upheld a 1 percent sales tax proposed by the Cherokee County school board and approved by local voters in 1994 as part of a $47 million bond referendum.

The court's May 2 decision ended a lawsuit that challenged the school board's constitutional authority to impose a sales tax. The high court said the tax is constitutional because it was passed by voters, not just the school board.

It is the first time a South Carolina school board has successfully enacted a sales tax, said William Ross, the superintendent of the 8,500-student Cherokee County schools.

The tax goes into effect July 1, pushing the local sales tax to 6 percent. It will raise up to an additional $2 million a year for schools. A sunset clause will kill the tax in 20 years, or when the bonds are paid, whichever comes first.

Vol. 15, Issue 35

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