News in Brief: A National Roundup

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Aftermath of a Slaying

Nathaniel Brazill, a 13-year-old student in Lake Worth, Fla., was being held in police custody last week while a grand jury considered whether to try him as an adult in connection with the fatal shooting of an English teacher.

Police said the 7th grader shot Barry Grinlow, a popular teacher at Lake Worth Middle School, May 26, after the boy had been sent home earlier in the day for throwing water balloons.

According to police, the teenager returned to the school at 3:30 p.m. and told Mr. Grinlow, who was standing in the hallway, that he wanted to talk to two girls in his classroom. Mr. Grinlow, 35, who hadn't known that the boy had been sent home, told the student to go back to his class. The boy then pulled out a .25-caliber handgun and shot the teacher in the head, police said.

Police Lt. Raychel Houston said officers were still investigating the motive for the shooting at the 1,500-student school.

The suspect has earned grades of A and B and was on the honor roll, said Mabel Cardec, a spokeswoman for the 148,000-student Palm Beach County district.

—Jessica Portner

L.A. Faces Shortage of Classrooms for Thousands

A new report urges the Los Angeles school board to make building high schools a top priority, warning that enrollment will outpace existing space in a few years, leaving potentially thousands of teenagers without classrooms.

The report, which is scheduled to be presented to the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District later this month, predicts that if no additional high schools are built by 2007, when the high school population is expected to peak, the district will be short as many as 22,000 seats.

The district has gained 75,000 students in the past five years, bringing its total enrollment to 711,000, and in a few years, the "bubble" of crowding will begin to shift from the elementary and middle schools to the high schools, said district spokesman Shel Erlich.

Catherine Gewertz

ADHD Student's Expulsion Voided

A federal magistrate has ruled that the Richland district near Madison, Wis., was wrong in its decision to expel a disabled student involved in a vandalism spree that resulted in $40,000 damage to two elementary schools.

The student had been diagnosed as learning-disabled. But school officials had deemed that the offense was not a manifestation of that disability. The federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act bars expulsions for offenses stemming from a student's disability.

A psychiatrist, however, concluded that the student had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and said that the offense was a manifestation of ADHD. Magistrate Steve Crocker agreed last month and upheld an earlier finding that the student was wrongly expelled.

"The net effect is to leave a school district open to any challenge at any time," said Peter A. Martin, a lawyer for the district.

—Joetta L. Sack

Missouri School for Sale?

Graduating seniors at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in Missouri have bid farewell to their alma mater by secretly placing a real estate ad for the building in the newspaper.

The pranksters ran a 12-line classified advertisement in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 10 days last month, said Brad Heger, an assistant principal whose office phone number was listed in the ad's contact information.

Located on 27 acres in Ladue, an affluent community west of St. Louis, the school was pitched as having tennis courts, an intercom system, and renovated restrooms—all for the bargain price of $550,000. More than 30 people called to inquire about the deal, Mr. Heger said.

The entire 250-student graduating class conspired to pull off the gag, said Mr. Heger, who crowned the prank "one of the best" ever played.

—Julie Blair

Grant Given for Brown Research

The Joyce Foundation will give nearly $350,000 to researchers studying how school desegregation policies stemming from the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board ofEducation have affected students. The money is part of a series of grants the Chicago-based foundation will give this year to examine landmark achievements of the 20th century.

Amy Stuart Wells, a professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, is leading the Brown project, now in its second year. The research was first underwritten by the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation in New York City. The Joyce Foundation will allocate $345,754 to the project, Ms. Wells said.

Some 300 African-American, white, and Hispanic students who graduated from high schools nationwide in 1980 will be interviewed about their experiences, she said.

—Julie Blair

Youngsters Stranded on Buses

In two separate incidents, young students recently were stranded on their school buses.

A kindergarten boy from the 645-student Pine Lane Primary School in Parker, Colo., was left on his school bus May 25 after having fallen asleep. A school spokesman said that another driver found the boy asleep after the bus was parked in the terminal. School officials were investigating why a post-trip inspection had not taken place; the bus driver has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome.

In the other incident, a 4-year-old boy participating in the Jefferson County, N.C., Head Start program was left alone May 11 on a school bus in the parking lot of South Smithfield Primary School, according to Superintendent James F. Causby. The boy fell asleep and stayed there for three hours until a staff member at the 560-student school spotted him standing in the bus. The driver, who had failed to check the bus after letting students off, resigned, Mr. Causby said.

—Michelle Galley

Seniors Duplicate School Keys

Two seniors at a famed suburban Chicago high school have been barred from graduation ceremonies this week after confessing to a prank that put keys to school doors into the hands of some 500 students.

The two male students stole a master key at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill., and sent copies to hundreds of randomly chosen students two weeks ago. The keys could open several doors.

The 3,400-student school began locking most of its outside doors for the first time last year, after the shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Administrators ordered students to turn in the keys or report that they had been thrown away. Some locks were changed as a precaution, but no security breaches have so far been discovered.

—Bess Keller

Students Dance in the Daylight

Administrators at an alternative high school in Michigan shifted this year's prom to daytime hours to give all students the opportunity to attend.

Students at Phoenix High School in Kalamazoo, which serves at-risk students ages 16 to 20, attended their morning classes May 19. Then they were transported via limousine to their prom, which ran from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m.

Many of the school's 130 students work in the evenings or have children to care for, and a prom held during traditional later hours would have excluded them, Principal Douglas Wood said.

— Adrienne D. Coles

Baltimore County Deputy Sued

The second- highest-ranking school official in the Baltimore County, Md., schools has been accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward a former office assistant.

Richard M. Milbourne, the acting deputy superintendent of the 106,000-student suburban system, was sued last month in Baltimore County Circuit Court. The school board and retiring Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione also were named as defendants.

Mr. Milbourne is accused of kissing, groping, and making suggestive comments to a woman who worked as his office assistant. She seeks $4.7 million in damages.

Lawyers representing both sides did not wish to comment on the suit. School officials, including Mr. Milbourne, could not be reached for comment.

—Alan Richard

Bully Sentenced to Jail

A 16-year-old student at Vernon Township High School in New Jersey has been sentenced to 60 days in jail for threatening two other students with violence if they didn't give him their lunch money.

The student pleaded guilty May 17 to two counts of second-degree theft by extortion, said Bruce LaCarrubba, the assistant prosecutor for Sussex County.

The shakedowns and threats of violence took place almost daily over a six-month period, from October to March, Mr. LaCarrubba said. In some instances, he said, there was evidence that the student made good on his threats by beating up the other youths.

In addition to serving time, the bully must undergo therapy, pay $150 to each of his victims, and perform 225 hours of community service.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

Vol. 19, Issue 39, Page 4

Published in Print: June 7, 2000, as News in Brief: A National Roundup
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