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Chicago Parents Complain Of Lack of Tutoring Notice

A group of Chicago parents filed a complaint last week with the Illinois Department of Education, saying that the city school district has "bungled" the job of offering after-school tutoring to students.

The complaint by members of South Side United, a federation of members of local school councils in Chicago, says that between 13,000 and 18,000 pupils from low-income families aren't receiving the help they are entitled to under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The law requires districts to set aside money to pay for tutoring by providers of parents' choice for low-income children in certain schools.

The group faults the 439,000-student Chicago public schools for doing an inadequate job of informing parents of the tutoring options, and it calls on state schools Superintendent Robert Schiller to make sure that money earmarked for tutoring isn't spent for other purposes.

Karen Craven, a spokeswoman for the state education department, said officials were reviewing the parents' complaint.

Officials with the district could not be reached for comment last week. However, Arne Duncan, the district's chief executive officer, told the Chicago Tribune that the system was providing assistance for the students who qualify.

—Ann Bradley

California District Turns Down Chance to Host 'Reality' Show

School officials in Laguna Beach, Calif., have scrapped a proposal that would have allowed MTV to film a documentary of student life on a high school campus.

The Laguna Beach school board voted unanimously on Feb. 4 to end negotiations with the cable music channel, shortly after a national flap erupted over the MTV-sponsored Super Bowl half-time show in which the singer Janet Jackson's breast was exposed.

The New York City-based MTV had planned to choose several students at Laguna Beach High School and follow their lives for a "reality" series. The high school would have received between $12,000 and $40,000 in scholarship money, plus a percentage of the show's royalties.

Steven E. Keller, the assistant superintendent for instruction for the 2,700-student district, said that MTV's staff members had been professional and courteous during their conversations, which started in November.

But the board saw many problems, he said, and not just because of the Super Bowl controversy.

In a statement, MTV officials said: "We're disappointed with this decision and we're going to take a look at how to best proceed."

—Joetta L. Sack

Ariz. Basketball Player Injured by Mob of Fans

A high school basketball player in Arizona suffered a stroke and was partially paralyzed after celebrating fans stormed the court and piled on top of him after a game-ending slam dunk.

Joe Kay, an 18-year-old senior at Tucson High School, was mobbed under fans after dunking the ball in a win over Salpointe Catholic High School on Feb. 6. Coaches reported that the student initially walked to the team bench, but then became unresponsive to questions and lost his ability to walk.

The team's coach told local reporters that doctors treating the teenager said he had suffered a stroke and lost movement on the right side of his body after his carotid artery was torn. The artery supplies blood to the brain.

A spokeswoman for the Tucson schools said the student remained hospitalized last week. Counselors have been available for students at the high school.

—John Gehring

Student's Job at Hooters Rejected for Work-Study Credit

A high school senior in Effingham County, Ga., will not be allowed to receive academic credit through a work-study program for her part-time job at a Hooters restaurant, officials have decided.

Laura Williams, 17, has been working at the restaurant in the nearby city of Savannah as a hostess for about a month. She had hoped to receive academic credit for the job through a state work-study program run through Effingham County High School.

Hooters, a nationwide chain, is famed for its chicken wings and the shapely waitresses who serve them.

Administrators in the 9,200-student district said the job was not appropriate for the work-study program, and earlier this month, the school board upheld their decision not to allow the teenager academic credit for working there, Superintendent J. Michael Moore said.

The "sexual connotation" of the restaurant made it an unacceptable host for work-study, he said. "We don't feel it fits with the criteria of the work-study program," Mr. Moore said.

Ms. Williams' father, Larry Williams, said he was considering legal steps to appeal the decision. In the meantime, he said, Ms. Williams will continue to work at the restaurant.

—Sean Cavanagh

Baltimore Teachers Reject Pay Cut to Help With Deficit

For the second time in two weeks, Baltimore teachers have rejected a temporary pay cut that would help the district address a crippling deficit.

Baltimore Teachers Union members and other unionized employees voted no last week to a compromise proposal that would have cut 3.5 percent of their salaries until the end of the school year, down from an earlier proposal of a 6.8 percent cut.

District and union leaders shaped the proposal after Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley intervened in the schools' financial crisis. The district's deficit has snowballed to $58 million, out of a budget of $914 million. ("Velvet Glove, Steel Hand," Jan.14, 2004.)

Mr. O'Malley offered the district an $8 million loan in exchange for union support of the plan. Under the plan, the teachers would be paid back next year and the city in 2006, according to district and city officials.

District leaders had threatened to begin laying off as many as 1,200 employees if the unions did not back either the cut or an eight-day furlough.

—Bess Keller

Phila. Pupil Shot Outside School

A Philadelphia 3rd grader was shot in the face last week outside his school in what police said was a gun battle between neighborhood factions.

Faheem Thomas-Childs, 10, was caught in the crossfire outside Thomas M. Peirce Elementary School in North Philadelphia on Feb. 11. A crossing guard at the school, identified as Deborah Smith, 56, was shot in the foot.

The boy was in critical condition late last week following surgery.

The Philadelphia school district is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to arrests in the shootings, which provoked widespread outrage in the city. Police said they had assigned more officers to the area, one of the city's toughest, and were targeting suspects.

Meanwhile, a 16-year-old New York state student was charged with attempted second-degree murder last week, after he allegedly fired a gun in his school and wounded a teacher. He was subsequently subdued by an assistant principal.

Jon W. Romano was charged with shooting a gun inside Columbia High School, in the 5,000-student East Greenbush Central school district outside of Albany, on Feb. 9.

The student was subdued by Assistant Principal John Sawchuk before being taken in custody, a Feb. 10 statement from the district said. The shots hit teacher Michael Bennett in the leg.

Mr. Romano, who has pleaded not guilty, is being held at the Rensselaer County jail in Troy, N.Y., without bail, said Amanda R. Grieco, a spokeswoman for the local district attorney's office. The student's lawyer, E. Stewart Jones, could not be reached.

—Ann Bradley & Sean Cavanagh


Donald Barr, a writer and educator who served as the headmaster at two private schools, died on Feb. 5. He was 82 and suffered heart failure.

Mr. Barr was the headmaster of the Dalton School in New York City from 1964 to 1974, moving on to head the Hackley School in Tarrytown, N.Y. At both schools, he was known for a tough stance toward student discipline and as an outspoken opponent of both permissive education and parenting styles.

The author of numerous books, including several for children exploring mathematics and science, Mr. Barr published Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? Dilemmas in American Education Today in 1971. The collection of essays ranged widely over the nature of children, permissiveness in society, sex education, technology, testing, and the teaching of grammar.

Before his career in precollegiate education, Mr. Barr served as an English professor at Columbia University and assistant dean of its school of engineering, where he directed a program for gifted high school students. He also worked for the National Science Foundation in Washington in the early 1960s.

—Ann Bradley

Vol. 23, Issue 23, Page 4

Published in Print: February 18, 2004, as News in Brief
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