News In Brief

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Photo Flap

The Berkeley County, South Carolina, school system has suspended 10 employees-teachers, administrators, and district office workers-for sharing a sexually explicit photo by e-mail. A whistleblower busted the pen pals by sending the superintendent an anonymous e-mail that contained a list of their names and a copy of the offending photo.

Bad Dogs

In January, Sawgrass Springs Middle School in Broward County, Florida, banned hot dogs from its cafeteria after an 11-year-old boy choked to death on a bite of one lodged in his windpipe. Three school employees with medical training were unable to save the student. The American Academy of Pediatrics considers hot dogs a choking hazard, but only for very young children.

Survey Scandal

Parents in the Ridgewood, New Jersey, school district have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education charging that officials violated the Protection of Pupils Rights Amendment when they surveyed students last fall. The district polled 2,100 students in grades 7 through 12 about their sexual habits, experience with drugs, and mental health, among other matters. While school officials notified families about the survey, they didn't say when it would take place, nor did they obtain written consent from parents.

Edison Endures

Edison Schools Inc. has renewed contracts to manage public schools in Wichita, Kansas; Duluth, Minnesota; Mount Clemens, Michigan; and Boston, but not in Sherman, Texas. Edison, the nation's largest for-profit manager of public schools, has lost money through its five-year business venture in Sherman, and district officials have complained that the firm has cost them $4 million more than expected.

Machine Dreams

A coalition of advocacy groups has complained that ZapMe!, a company that provides free computer labs to schools, invades students' privacy. ZapMe! has donated technology to 6,000 schools in exchange for advertising and marketing privileges. Schools allow the company to flash ads on computer screens and agree to assign each student an identification code, which the company uses to track students online.

Birthday Suit

A federal appeals court will hear discrimination charges filed against a Roman Catholic school by a teacher dismissed in 1996 for engaging in premarital sex. When the teacher, Leigh Cline, informed her superiors at St. Paul Elementary and High School in Toledo, Ohio, that she was pregnant less than a month after getting married, the pastor of St. Paul Parish refused to renew her contract. Cline's suit charges the diocese violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against her based on sex and pregnancy.

Package Deal

Budget problems have forced the Colorado Springs, Colorado, school district to renege on promised incentive packages for teachers taking early retirement. The district can afford to pay the incentive packages—which have an average value of $39,500—to fewer than 33 of the 123 teachers who took the early buyout. The district has held a lottery to help determine which teachers will receive the extra money. Teachers who are not picked have until March to rescind their retirement.

Substance Search

The Christian Brothers High School, an all-boys private school in Memphis, Tennessee, says it will test its entire student body for illegal drugs next fall. Students who refuse to take the test will not be able to enroll. The school will charge parents $60 for the tests, which will analyze hair samples to determine use of marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs.

Gym Jettisoned

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that the Chicago public schools can cut physical education classes. The decision allows the school board to make gym an elective for juniors and seniors and could save the 431,000-student district $16 million in the next school year.

Vol. 11, Issue 6, Pages 14-15

Published in Print: March 1, 2000, as News In Brief
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