News in Brief: A National Roundup

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Ariz. Wants Four-Campus Charter School Closed

Arizona's state school board has revoked the charter of a school that serves teenage students expelled from other schools and those on probation or parole.

But the CLIN Success School, which school director Alan Wright said has four campuses throughout the state and enrolls roughly 150 students, has not shut down.

Mr. Wright, who used to oversee education programs for Arizona's juvenile-corrections agency, has gone to court to keep the campuses open. He argues that the state does not have sufficient grounds to close the school.

State officials maintain that the school has violated its charter and has not abided by federal and state special education rules.

But state officials declined to elaborate on why the school's charter was stripped, noting their written revocation order was not yet complete as of last week.

The state board's action late last month marks only the second time Arizona officials have yanked a school's charter.

The first school had its charter revoked after the school director filed for bankruptcy and shut down the school. The director was later indicted on 31 counts of theft, fraud, and misuse of public funds. ("For First Time, 'Hands Off' Ariz. Revokes Charter for School," Nov. 12, 1996, and "Off To Market," April 9, 1997.)

Boost for Spec. Ed. Teachers?

The Los Angeles school district should spend $10 million to hire 300 new special education teachers and give bonuses to current teachers in that field, two consultants say.

The advisers made their recommendation as part of a 1996 consent decree under which the district agreed to bring its special education services into compliance with state and federal laws within the next five years. The school board planned to consider the proposal at a meeting this week.

Under the plan, presented late last month by Louis S. Barber and Mary Margaret Kerr, each of the district's more than 3,600 special education teachers would receive a $2,500 stipend. In addition, more than $400,000 would be spent on teacher recruitment.

About 72,000 students in the 667,000-student district receive special education services.

Get Along or Go to Jail

In a case that some say has gotten out of hand, a Michigan judge has ordered two 10-year-old schoolgirls in suburban Detroit to stop fighting and get along, or face time in a juvenile-detention center.

The case began when the mother of one of the Miller Elementary School students obtained a personal-protection order last month against another 5th grade girl for allegedly teasing her daughter. Such orders are usually issued against suspected stalkers.

Last week, Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Michael Schwartz extended the personal-protection order to both students. The order allows the girls to attend school functions at the same time, but bars them them from being together at nonschool events.

"It's an abuse of the judicial system," said Michael Dennis, the lawyer representing the girl against whom the initial order was issued. "You are opening the door to every child who has a dispute."

Curfews Reducing City Crime

Cities are increasingly imposing curfews on young people to thwart juvenile crime and encourage school attendance, a new report says, and such policies seem to be having a good effect.

In a survey of cities with a population of 30,000 or more released this month by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, researchers found that 276 of the 347 cities that responded used a nighttime curfew for minors. Seventy-six of those surveyed had a daytime curfew as well.

More than half of the cities with nighttime curfews said they had helped decrease juvenile crime. And all of the 72 cities with daytime curfews reported that the restrictions had helped reduce incidents of truancy, graffiti, and vandalism.

Board Delays Gifted Testing

Kindergartners in the Huntington Beach, Calif., schools will no longer be tested for the district's gifted and talented program.

By a 3-2 vote, the school board has decided to hold off on testing until students are halfway through the 1st grade. The district will also delay entrance into the program for eligible children from 1st grade to 2nd grade.

Some board members were concerned that out of the roughly 190 kindergartners who were tested each year for the program, only a handful--about 20--were being admitted. When some of the students were tested for a second time, many of them did score high enough.

The move has drawn strong opposition from parents whose children are already in the gifted and talented program. They argue that the decision penalizes the children who were clearly eligible for the program.

Ex-Schools Chief Denied Job

Vernon Jackson, who was fired as superintendent of the North Panola, Miss., schools after the state took over the financially troubled district, has lost a legal bid to get back his job.

Mr. Jackson was fired in June 1996 on the recommendation of Ray Strebeck, a conservator appointed by the state school board to run the district under a state takeover law. He sued Mr. Strebeck and Tom Burnham, the Mississippi superintendent of education, but a federal judge last month dismissed the suit.

Mr. Jackson is now the director of the Senatobia Alternative School in Senatobia, Miss.

The 2,200-student North Panola district, located in Sardis, received a state loan to erase its deficit. It was returned to local control last summer.

Student Disposes of Newborn

A 10th grade girl in St. Petersburg, Fla., gave birth to a baby boy in a high school restroom one afternoon last week and then dropped her newborn--who she says she believed was dead--into a trash bin, local police reported.

The 6-pound, 13-ounce infant's body temperature had dropped to 30 degrees before a janitor found him two hours later. The baby is now in stable condition at a local hospital.

Surveillance cameras located in the hall outside the girls' restroom at Northeast High School helped local police identify the 15-year-old mother.

The student admitted to dropping the baby in the trash can and said she had thought it was stillborn, police said. The teenager faces charges of aggravated child abuse.

Disabilities Ruling Upheld

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has upheld a ruling that Illinois was unlawfully negligent in providing early-intervention services to disabled children.

The closely watched Marie O. v. Edgar case became the first lawsuit to question a state's system of services for disabled infants under Part H of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

In a 1996 decision in U.S. District Court, Illinois was ordered to take steps to restructure its program and eliminate long waiting lists for services.

The appellate court upheld the ruling that states could be sued for not providing early intervention in a timely manner. Illinois officials acknowledged that they had long waiting lists of children eligible for services, but maintained that they were immune from lawsuits under the IDEA.

Atlantic City Chief Defiant

n Superintendent H. Benjamin Williams of the Atlantic City, N.J., schools last week defied an order by the state education commissioner to remove 5th graders from a troubled citywide middle school and return them to their neighborhood schools.

The Albany Avenue School, which serves 1,800 students in grades 5-8, has been plagued with disruptions almost from the day it opened in September. ("Makeup of Atlantic City Middle School at Issue," Nov. 12, 1997.)

Commissioner Leo Klagholz last month ordered that the 5th graders be reassigned to their neighboring schools by Dec. 1.

The state has asked a superior court judge for authorization to enforce the order.

District officials were scheduled to appear in court last Friday to argue why the judge should not grant the state's request.

Who Knows Best?

In a recent survey of 400 teachers, 404 principals, and 403 district administrators at elementary and secondary schools nationwide, the following are the percentages of those who say teachers are prepared to use the Internet in teaching:

Pie chart

SOURCE: Cable in the Classroom.

Ex-President of Bank Street College Dies

Richard R. Ruopp, a former college president known for his work in early-childhood education and classroom-technology integration, died Nov. 25 of Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 65.

Richard R. Ruopp

Mr. Ruopp served as the president of Bank Street College of Education in New York City from 1979 to 1988. He helped establish a children's technology center at the school.

Both during and after his tenure at Bank Street, Mr. Ruopp worked for the Technical Education Research Centers of Cambridge, Mass.

Former Ohio State Schools Chief Is Dead

Martin W. Essex, a former Ohio state superintendent who was called the state's "father of vocational education," died Nov. 27. He was 89.

Mr. Essex led the Ohio public schools from 1966 until 1977, when he retired. He vigorously campaigned for the 1970 state law that mandated vocational education at all schools, said Oliver M. Ocasek, a former Ohio Senate president and a former vice president of the state school board.

Mr. Essex was also the superintendent of the Akron public schools for 11 years.

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