News in Brief: A National Roundup

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Boy Suspended 3 Times In Dispute Over Uniform

School officials in a Calumet City, Ill., district have suspended a 7th grade honors student for a third time this school year for not conforming to a new, mandatory school-uniform policy because of what his parents say are religious reasons.

The school board decision this month allows Adam Levon, 12, to return to Wentworth Junior High if he wears a white shirt and blue pants. The one-month suspension follows one three-day and one 10-day suspension.

Kathryn Levon, Adam's mother, contends that the policy conflicts with her family's religious beliefs. "How can I teach my son to be tolerant of others and not to judge people by what's on the outside?" Ms. Levon, who is Baptist, said last week.

District Superintendent Michael Chinino said the policy is intended to help eliminate visible gang symbols and reduce peer pressure in the 1,079-student district.

Pa. Redirects Spending

Pennsylvania education officials are warning schools to stop spending funds targeted at the children of migrant workers for "basic education" programs.

Pennsylvania received about $5.7 million in federal money and is spending $690,000 of its own funds this year to provide migrant students services such as summer school, parent-involvement programs, and after-school tutoring.

State officials, however, recently discovered that schools were using the money to run bilingual education and other basic education programs during regular school hours, which runs counter to federal and state rules.

Indian Remark Taxes Principal

A high school principal faces possible disciplinary action for telling a student assembly that any student who would spend money on drugs is a "dumb Indian."

The remark made by Principal Louis Jumper of Pinon (Ariz.) High School sparked a half-day walkout by 80 to 100 students in the 460-student school this month, according to Larry Wallen, the superintendent of Pinon Unified District. The next morning, one family staged a protest by blocking buses from entering the school grounds.

Mr. Jumper, who is Cherokee, has formally apologized to the student body. But the district has hired an independent investigator to look into the incident.

Mr. Wallen noted that Mr. Jumper's remarks came as the isolated district on the Navajo reservation has been struggling to combat drug-related problems.

Report Cites Cafeteria Risks

Three of every four public school cafeterias in the metropolitan Detroit area have been guilty of critical health-code violations that open the door to food poisoning, according to a report in The Detroit News.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers such violations--which include spoiled food and the presence of vermin--serious food-borne illness risks.

"Grading the Cafeterias," a computer-based analysis by the newspaper, examined more than 3,900 local health department inspection reports from August 1993 to June 1996. The authors found that health inspectors cited 828 schools for at least one "critical code violation," the most serious infraction on an FDA checklist.

During the period studied, hundreds of students from 1,087 public schools in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties got food poisoning, according to state documents. The Oct. 17 story, however, also noted that most students eat cafeteria food daily without incident.

A half dozen districts contacted last week declined to comment, but a spokeswoman for one Oakland County district called the report somewhat misleading.

Asante To Leave Top Post

A pioneer of the Afrocentrism movement in education, who has been embroiled in a misconduct probe, has announced that he will not seek another term as the chairman of the African-American studies department he founded at Temple University.

Molefi Kete Asante announced this month that he would step down to devote more time to teaching. His term expires in June as the chairman of the department he has headed for 12 years at the public university in Philadelphia.

The announcement comes after a colleague alleged that Mr. Asante did not give her proper credit for a high school history textbook they had worked on. After the dispute, he cast the deciding vote in a tenure review to dismiss her.

He admitted that Ella M. Forbes, an assistant professor in the department, had worked with him on the project, but said that she had signed a contract to receive royalties and asked that her name not appear anywhere in the book.

Although a faculty senate committee found that Mr. Asante had acted improperly and called for his resignation as chairman, university President Peter J. Liacouras dismissed the charges.

Girl Ordered To Count Cars

A 16-year-old girl was ordered to sit in a chalk-drawn square outside her Lorenzo, Texas, high school and count cars for 1« days this month as punishment for missing a community-service commitment.

Municipal Judge J.R. Peterson originally sentenced LaTosha Pringler, a sophomore at Lorenzo High School, to 30 hours of community service for cursing at the school nurse, who filed charges with the police, said Principal Charles Cate.

Ms. Pringler could not be reached for comment, but a local newspaper reported that she denied the swearing incident.

Player's Helmet Injures 5

The father of a football player who was expelled from his Roman Catholic high school last week for sharpening the buckles of his helmet has claimed responsibility for the action that injured opponents.

Officials at St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque, N.M., kicked out Mike Cito, a 17-year-old junior, for wearing a helmet with razor-sharp buckles on the chin strap during the Oct. 12 game against rival Albuquerque Academy. The incident injured four academy players, one of whom required 10 stitches, as well as a game official.

About 200 students at the Catholic school staged a walkout last week to protest the expulsion, which is pending an appeal by Mr. Cito's parents.

D.C. Chief Fires Workers

The embattled superintendent of the District of Columbia public schools has cut 23 positions in what he said will be the first in a series of management-level personnel changes in the school district.

Franklin L. Smith announced this month that he had axed the employees from the district's hierarchy.

Mr. Smith, whose own job is considered to be in jeopardy, said the downsizing marks the beginning of a comprehensive overhaul of the management system for the district. Congress last year established a financial-control board to oversee the District of Columbia. The control board has replaced the school district's chief financial officer and is considering taking over the operations of the school system as well.

Girl Loses Homecoming Bid

A school-desegregation policy from the 1970s has led to a 9th grade Alabama girl's claims that her mixed racial heritage affected her chances to be a candidate for homecoming queen.

The policy at Cloverdale Junior High School in Montgomery stipulates that students in each homeroom nominate both a black and a white candidate for homecoming queen.

Bethany Godby, who has a black mother and a white father, contends that she was nominated as a white candidate in two elections, but was left off the final ballot because the school computer system reported she was a black student, said her lawyer, Wayne Sabel.

James R. Seale, the school board's lawyer, however, said the initial homeroom election was considered invalid, and Bethany lost in the second vote.

Principal Jethro Wilson said he may re-examine the rule, which was adopted when most Montgomery students were white. White students now make up only 9 percent of the Cloverdale student body.

Math Publisher John Saxon Dies

John H. Saxon Jr., the feisty and controversial textbook author and publisher, died Oct. 17 in Norman, Okla. He was 72 and suffered from congestive heart failure.

At his death, Mr. Saxon was the chairman of Saxon Publishers Inc. in Norman, the company he founded in 1981 at his dining room table. Saxon Publishers currently has 17 titles sold in about 12,000 schools in all 50 states, his son, Dr. John H. Saxon III, a company board member, said last week. The books cover mathematics, as well as physics and phonics.

A retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, he gained considerable attention for his back-to-basics approach to teaching math. He criticized the math "establishment," and state textbook-adoption committees often rejected his books.

But the no-nonsense texts proved popular among private schools and in states where public schools select books locally.

Vol. 16, Issue 09

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