District News Roundup: Controversial Ala. Principal Headed for Superintendency

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Hulond Humphries, the former Alabama high school principal who set off a furor with his proposed ban on racially mixed couples at the school prom, has been virtually guaranteed the position of superintendent of the same district that fired him.

Mr. Humphries won 57 percent of the vote in a run-off of the Democratic primary election last month for the superintendency of the 2,400-student Randolph County school district. He does not have a Republican challenger in the November election.

Mr. Humphries' inflammatory comments to a student on racial mixing brought national attention to the town of Wedowee two years ago.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which investigated the incident, eventually forced the local school board to remove him from his job as principal of Randolph County High School. He was allowed to remain as a consultant to the district. (See Education Week, Sept. 7, 1994.)

The primary vote came as a shock to some in the county's black community. "I think a lot is attributable to the fact that the African-American population didn't turn out as much as they could have and should have," said school board member Charlotte Clark-Frieson, a vocal opponent of Mr. Humphries and the president of the local NAACP.

Federal Approval Needed

The chancellor of the New York City schools cannot suspend members of local school boards without the approval of the U.S. attorney general, the U.S. Department of Justice has determined.

The decision, which Mr. Crew called "as unusual as it is disappointing," stems from the department's review of a state law intended to block suspended board members from swiftly regaining their seats.

The law, passed in March, authorizes the chancellor to control four community school boards for up to one year after the election of members who have been suspended for alleged gross mismanagement or corruption.

The federal Voting Rights Act, however, empowers the Justice Department to review actions that might undermine the voting power of minority groups in areas with a history of discrimination--including New York's Brooklyn, Bronx, and Manhattan boroughs.

In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Crew said he feared that the new requirement of federal approval would delay and hamper his ability to remove corruption and incompetence from the community boards.

Mr. Crew could appeal the department's decision.

Rethinking History

The school board of the Hudson, Ohio, district will reconsider adopting a popular American history textbook at a special meeting this week.

The board failed last month to approve The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society after Robert Lattimer, the head of the local chapter of Citizens for Excellence in Education, a conservative parents' group, complained to the board the book presented a "pessimistic view" of American history and that it also contained an "an overabundant supply of material on women, African-Americans, [and] Native Americans," among other criticisms.

In print for 12 years, the textbook has appeared in three editions and is used by many high school honors classes, according to Addison Wesley Longman Publishers in New York City.

Two of the five board members in the 5,400-student district voted in favor of the text, one voted against, and two abstained.

State law requires the approval of a majority of school board members for a text to be adopted.

New Catholic School

The Archdiocese of Detroit has announced plans to build its first new Roman Catholic school in three decades.

To be located in the fast-growing suburb of Canton, Mich., the new school will serve about 220 students in grades K-4 in the 1997-98 school year. By its fourth year, school expects to have about 1,000 K-8 students.

The Detroit area has 174 Catholic schools, the most recent of which was built more than 30 years ago.

Archdiocese officials believe the new school signals a resurgence of interest in Catholic schooling.

Vol. 15, Issue 40

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