News in Brief: A National Roundup

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NSF Pulls Milwaukee Grants For Low Math, Science Gains

Milwaukee is the latest urban district to have its National Science Foundation funding for mathematics and science improvement frozen.

The 102,000-student district will lose its subsidy from at least this coming September through next February because of a poor program-effectiveness review last month, said Lee Herring, a spokesman for the Arlington, Va.-based federal agency.

Funding was stopped because the district has not shown improvement in math and science test scores and has "a lack of vision of reform," Mr. Herring said. The district is at the midpoint of an $8.5 million, five-year grant, which is part of the NSF's Urban Systemic Initiative. It expected to receive $3.5 million next school year.

Only 9 percent of the district's 10th graders ranked as "proficient" in math, and only 14 percent reached that level in science, on a 1997-98 statewide assessment.

District officials declined to discuss details of the review. They said they hoped the NSF's decision to cease funding was not final.

--Mary Ann Zehr

Suit Over GED Dismissed

A federal judge in Louisiana has dismissed a lawsuit by a student with learning disabilities who sought to modify the General Educational Development test.

U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Tyson ruled March 3 that it wasn't necessary to modify the test to meet the learning styles of students with learning disabilities. Scott Rinehart Jones, 23, who has dyslexia, attention-deficit disorder, and an inability to process sequential information, sued the Washington-based American Council on Education, which administers the test, to get multiple-part questions changed to more simple and direct ones.

But Judge Tyson said that such changes to the test, which people take to earn the equivalent of a high school diploma, would be unreasonably expensive and could give some students an unfair advantage.

ACE officials agreed to give Mr. Jones more time to take the test, a private room in which to take it, and the use of a calculator to accommodate his special needs, but they would not modify the test questions.

Sheldon Steinbach, the general counsel for the ACE, said that Mr. Jones had the right to seek reasonable accommodations, but that his request to alter questions would change the character of the test.

--Adrienne D. Coles

Natalia Toro, a 14-year-old senior at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo., last week became the youngest winner in the history of the Intel (formerly Westinghouse) Science Talent Search. Her project, "Independent Analysis of Evidence for nu_mu <-> nu_tau Oscillations in the SuperKamiokande Atmospheric Neutrino Data," earned her a $50,000 scholarship.
--The Intel Corporation

English-Only Law Blocked

A state judge in Alaska has blocked implementation of a law that, with some exceptions, would require state employees to conduct official business in English.

Opponents say ambiguities in the law mean that it could block bilingual programs that use students' native languages, said Ed Chen, the co-director of the Language Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups representing individual teachers and other plaintiffs fighting the law in court.

Supporters, however, say the measure's exemptions mean foreign-language or bilingual education programs in the state's public K-12 schools or universities would not be affected. In lawsuits filed last month, opponents claim that the law discriminates against people who do not speak English and violates the state constitution's guarantee of freedom of speech.

State Superior Court Judge Fred Torrisi, sitting in Dillingham, granted a preliminary injunction March 3 against the law.

--Lynn Schaniberg

Newspaper-Adviser Case Settled

A Washington state teacher removed as the adviser of her high school's newspaper for permitting an article on bestiality has settled a lawsuit with her district.

Val Schroeder had sued the 5,000-student Stanwood district in June 1996, claiming that officials had defamed her, violated her free speech, and inflicted emotional distress.

Washington State

Ms. Schroeder, 41, who had been at the 1,500-student Stanwood High School for four years, was removed from her position after she refused to pull or apologize for a story students published on bestiality in the school paper, the Spartan Spectrum, in December 1995. The administration assigned her to teach English instead of journalism, photography, and yearbook.

After an investigation, the state superintendent's office found that Ms. Schroeder had not broken any professional-conduct guidelines.

A settlement for $20,000 was reached Feb. 23 in mediation after a Snohomish County court ruled that Ms. Schroeder had not been defamed and that the article, though not obscene, was inappropriate in a school setting.

--Candice Furlan

Parent Accused of Assault

A high school teacher in Boston is recovering from injuries he received when the father of one of his students allegedly assaulted him.

Antonio Centeio, a mathematics teacher at the 670-student Jeramiah E. Burke High School, suffered several injuries to his jaw, mouth, and left eye March 2, according to the public school's headmaster, Steven Leonard.

Mr. Centeio was treated and released from a hospital the day of the incident and was expected to be teaching this week.

According to Mr. Leonard, Dale Robinson was upset over his daughter's near-failing grades, and after dropping the high school senior off at the school, he interrupted Mr. Centeio's class to discuss her progress. The conversation became heated and ended when Mr. Robinson allegedly attacked Mr. Centeio.

Mr. Robinson, 37, pleaded not guilty to three counts of assault and battery of a public official, according to James Borghesani, a spokesman for the Boston district attorney's office. He was released on $500 bail.

--Kerry A. White

Unshaved Youth Home-Schooled

A middle school boy in Texas will be home-schooled rather than follow his district's no-facial-hair policy.

Stanley Diaz Jr., a 7th grader at James Brooks Middle School in Midland whose parents want him to wait at least three years--in keeping with their Hispanic culture--before he starts shaving, violated the Greenwood district's policy forbidding facial hair.

The principal had ordered the 12-year-old to shave or face indefinite suspension. The school board of the 1,700-student district last month upheld the policy.

The district superintendent declined to comment.

--Adrienne D. Coles

Teacher Charged With Beatings

A Miami 1st grade teacher was arrested last week and charged with felony child abuse for allegedly using a flat stick to spank a half-dozen students in her class.

Mariefrance Milhomme, 29, a third-year teacher at Henry Reeves Elementary School, a publicly funded school operated by the Edison Project, disciplined students by "beating them with a 21-inch, heavy-duty paint stick," district police alleged. Officials of the 347,000-student Miami-Dade County district said anonymous phone calls prompted an investigation.

Ms. Milhomme was released from a Miami detention center on $30,000 bail. She has been removed from the classroom and will work in the district's offices pending the outcome of the case.

Each of the six counts of the charge carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison. Ms. Milhomme's lawyer, Edward L. Tobin, said he expected that a thorough investigation would exonerate his client.

--Bess Keller

Administrator To Pay for Corruption

A Miami-Dade County assistant superintendent will serve six months in jail and three years' probation, and will pay $48,777 in fines, after pleading guilty to seven misdemeanor corruption charges.

Terri Kanov Reynolds, the former chief of the district's office of exceptional-student education and psychological services, came under scrutiny last year after The Miami Herald revealed that she had reported going to Gainesville, Fla., five times in two years to attend state education meetings that never took place. Her forged documentation of the trips cost the district $3,108.

A 30-year employee of the school system, Ms. Reynolds was also ordered to complete 500 hours of community work with youths, reimburse the county $3,472 in investigation costs, and pay $481 in court costs.

--Candice Furlan


Lyman V. Ginger

Lyman V. Ginger, the president of the National Education Association in 1957 and 1958 and a longtime Kentucky educator, died of complications from pneumonia March 1. He was 91.

In addition to serving as a teacher and principal in Kentucky schools, Mr. Ginger also served as Kentucky's superintendent of public instruction from 1972 to 1976, as the dean of the University of Kentucky's college of education, and two terms as the president of the Kentucky Education Association. Mr. Ginger was also the president of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, and in 1973, he was named the secretary of the Kentucky Education and Arts Cabinet.

--Michelle Galley

Vol. 18, Issue 27, Page 4

Published in Print: March 17, 1999, as News in Brief: A National Roundup
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