News in Brief: A National Roundup

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Slightly Higher Percentage Of Minorities Take UC Offers

Although fewer minority students have been admitted for fall 1998 to the University of California's flagship campuses, a slightly higher percentage of those who were accepted plan to enroll, when compared to previous years, according to recent data from the university system.

Since the state ended race-based admission policies in 1996, the UC campuses have tried to attract minority students through various other recruitment activities. And the data released last month show that those efforts have been somewhat effective. At the system's Los Angeles campus, for example, 39.7 percent of the Hispanics who were admitted for the fall of 1997 attended. This year, 45.3 percent are enrolling.

Still, with the end of affirmative action, the number of black and Hispanic students admitted to the freshman classes at Berkeley and UCLA has fallen by almost half in some cases. For example, 1,251 Hispanics were admitted for the 1997-98 school year, and 492 of them enrolled. This year, 635 were admitted, and 264 of them plan to attend, according to data from the university system. ("Calif. Colleges Going All Out To Woo Minority Students," April 29, 1998.)

Some campuses, however, such as Riverside and Irvine, will actually see an increase in the number of minority students.

Ky. Teachers Protest Graduation

Teachers in a western Kentucky district boycotted recent graduation ceremonies after the school board ruled that three students with failing grades should still graduate.

Parents of the Hopkinsville High School students, who had failed math and English classes, appealed the failures to the principal and superintendent, but the administrators upheld the grades.

The parents of three students then went to the district's five-member board, which, in a special meeting called hours before commencement ceremonies began, ordered that they be allowed to graduate, Principal Charles Digby said.

In response, the school's 65 teachers refused late last month to don graduation robes and march with the students--a traditional part of the event. Instead, they watched from the stands. Mr. Digby, who said he supported the teachers' protest, accused the board last week of micro-managing the 9,000-student Hopkinsville district. The board chairman could not be reached for comment.

Teachers said they planned to oppose the decision at a board meeting late last week. They also raised $1,000 to place a full-page add in the local paper denouncing the board's action.

CUNY Raises Requirements

In a decision that will halt nearly three decades of flexible admissions and remedial education at its 11 campuses, trustees of the City University of New York have voted 9-6 to bar the admission of any student who fails to pass remedial exams in reading, writing, and math.

The public university estimates that the plan, which will be phased in over three years beginning in September 1999, could cut the number of incoming bachelor's-degree candidates in half, from 26,000 students to 13,000 students. Students will still be able to receive remedial instruction at the system's six community colleges.

New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has been highly critical of the system's declining graduation rates, lobbied for the plan. But the new policy, adopted late last month, has also drawn widespread criticism in the city.

Lawrence, Mass., Chief Named

A St. Paul, Minn., administrator will take the helm of the troubled Lawrence, Mass., school system later this year after the state board last month confirmed the candidate chosen by the local school board.

Mabel E. "Mae" Gaskins won unanimous approval last month from the Lawrence school board to take over as the superintendent of the 12,000-student district. The state board of education, which had the final say under an agreement reached last fall that headed off a state takeover, voted 5-2 in favor of Ms. Gaskins.

The system was declared "chronically underperforming" last summer after its only high school lost accreditation and a state audit found that $8.9 million in state education aid had been misspent. ("Troubled Mass. District Seeks Cooperation With State Officials," Dec. 10, 1998.)

Spec. Ed. Lawsuit Settled

The Mount Lebanon, Pa., school district has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit charging that officials denied special education services for a visually and neurologically impaired student who left the district nearly a decade ago.

The district failed to assess properly the disabilities of Jeremy Hunter, now 21, said his lawyer, Edward Feinstein.

Mr. Hunter's parents spent about $122,000 on private school tuition and other expenses after they removed him from his public school in 1989, while he was in 7th grade. They later filed suit against the district claiming it had failed to provide an adequate individualized education program.

Bethann Lloyd, a lawyer for the 5,700-student district, said Mr. Hunter's disabilities were believed to be mild, although school officials had not seen him since he left the public schools.

She said the district provided excellent services to the young man, but settled the case last month because some procedural mistakes had been made.

Colo. Principal Reinstated

The principal of a school in suburban Denver who had been put on leave for allowing 7th and 8th graders to taste wine during a trip to Paris has been reinstated.

As of last week, Shawn Colleary, the principal, is back at the Challenge School in the Cherry Creek school district on a "probationary" basis. He must "consistently demonstrate" good judgment and adherence to board policy to be taken off probation, Superintendent Robert Tschirki wrote in a letter to parents.

Mr. Tschirki said the principal's decision to allow the students to drink a little wine with dinner on the school-sponsored trip clearly violated the 38,000-student district's policy against drugs and alcohol.

Mr. Colleary, who went on paid leave May 11, was first told he could not return as principal and might be reassigned as a teacher. That punishment ignited protests from dozens of parents, some of whom said they signed a paper provided by the school's travel agency giving their children permission to taste the wine.

Suit Says Pupils Were Bullied

Parents of two children in a Roman Catholic school in Las Vegas have sued the parents of seven other pupils, claiming that those pupils bullied the two youngsters for more than a year.

The suits were filed in Clark County District Court by John W. and Lillian J. Muije on behalf of their son and by Goni C. Schenker on behalf of her daughter. Both students are 6th graders at St. Anne's Catholic School. Mr. Muije, a lawyer, filed the suits in April. The school was not named as a defendant.

The suits allege that the seven classmates, named as minor defendants along with the parents, have "repeatedly and consistently harassed, taunted, annoyed, made fun of, teased, and abused various classmates."

One student is accused of spreading false comments about the plaintiffs' children's "unchastity and sexual misconduct." One boy is also accused of beating up the Muijes' son in a school bathroom.

Student Kills Self at School

A 15-year-old student in Rialto, Calif., fatally shot himself in the head in his school's courtyard last month.

Ricardo Martin came to Rialto High School May 22 carrying a .38-caliber pistol, put the gun to his temple, and pulled the trigger, according to Marilyn Cadrosi, a spokeswoman for the district. He was rushed to a hospital, but he died the next day. While local news reports suggested the freshman was distraught about not advancing to the 10th grade and was upset at being teased about the way he dressed, district officials said they were at a loss to explain his actions.

"I have no idea why this young man felt the need to do that," Ms. Cadrosi said, adding the district is continuing to investigate.

Many of the school's 2,700 students, who were just arriving for their first-period classes at 7:30 a.m. when the shooting occurred, were ushered to the cafeteria, where counseling services were available, Ms. Cadrosi said.


U.S. District Judge George F. Gunn Jr., who had overseen the long-running St. Louis school desegregation case since 1991, died May 20 of cancer. He was 70.

Though semiretired, Judge Gunn retained control of a lawsuit filed in 1972 by black parents who said their children were receiving an inferior education. He was the fourth judge to handle the St. Louis case, and in 1996 he ordered the parties in the case into mediation to encourage a settlement. That effort was unsuccessful, and the case is still ongoing.

Judge Gunn served on the Missouri Court of Appeals and the Missouri Supreme Court before being appointed to the federal bench in 1985 by President Reagan.

Vol. 17, Issue 38, Page 4

Published in Print: June 3, 1998, as News in Brief: A National Roundup
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The obituary on U.S. District Judge George F. Gunn Jr. stated that the attempt to mediate the St. Louis school desegregation case was unsuccessful. In fact, that long-stalled effort is continuing.

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