Education Week - March 16, 2016 - (Page 4)

NEWS IN BRIEF The Chicago school district is suing former superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett and the owners at SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates for more than $65 million in damages in connection with the ex-superintendent's role in steering about $23.5 million in contracts to companies owned by her former employers, the Chicago Tribune reported last week. The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Court in Chicago accuses Byrd-Bennett, Gary Solomon, and Thomas Vranas, the co-owners of SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates, and the two companies of conspiring to defraud the school district of millions of dollars through a bribery and kickback scheme. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of deceiving the school district, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and fraudulently obtaining public funds, which should be returned. Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty last October to one count of wire fraud in connection with the bribery scheme. She is cooperating with federal authorities in their case against Vranas and Solomon, and faces up to 7.5 years prison.  -DENISA R. SUPERVILLE Trial Urban NAEP Program Expands to More Districts Six urban districts have volunteered to join the National Assessment of Educational Progress' Trial Urban District Assessment Program, bringing the number of participating districts to 27. Clark County, Nev., which includes Las Vegas; Denver; Fort Worth, Texas; Guilford County, N.C.; Milwaukee; and Shelby County, Tenn., which includes Memphis, are the newcomers to TUDA, which collects and reports on 4th and 8th graders' performance in math and reading on NAEP in select urban districts. The districts, which were voted in by the National Assessment Governing Board, will be included in the program next year.  -D.R.S. Detroit Faces Prospect Of Not Paying Workers The Detroit district might be unable to pay its employees after April 8, the district's newly appointed Nellie Doneva/Abilene Reporter-News/AP Chicago District Sues Former Chief Byrd-Bennett LEARN AND LIVE In Turnaround, Judge Rules No Student Records to Be Released Payton Zinn, left, and crisis counselor Kerri Kirby test out the text-and-drive simulator at Cooper High School in Abilene, Texas, last week. The Drive Alive program is designed to hammer home to students the consequences of texting-and being distracted-while driving. emergency manager told state lawmakers last week. If the legislature doesn't quickly approve $50 million in aid, teachers and other employees face payless paydays, said Steven Rhodes, who urged lawmakers to approve shortterm aid before their spring break, the Detroit Free Press reported. State lawmakers are considering legislation to rescue the district, which is saddled with more than $500 million in debt and dozens of dilapidated buildings plagued by rodents, mold, and heating and cooling problems. -COREY MITCHELL A federal judge has reversed an order that would have allowed the release of 10 million student records to lawyers tied to a special education lawsuit in California, making the decision after parent protests. Instead, the student files will remain under the control of the California education department, which will be required to run searches of the database to meet the needs of the plaintiffs. The case, Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association and California Concerned Parents v. California Department of Education, dates back to 2012 and claims that the state is not meeting its federal obligations to serve students with disabilities. U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller had originally ruled that a copy of the student data could be made available to the plaintiffs in order to meet their lawful needs for discovery in the case. The state database includes names, addresses, disciplinary records, Chicago Furlough Plan Leads To Teacher-Strike Threat Hours after the Chicago district announced that it was furloughing employees for three days, the teachers' union said the action "all but as- Sam Roberts/Burlington Times-News/AP LENDING A HAND 4 | EDUCATION WEEK | March 16, 2016 | Second graders at Burlington Christian School take part in a Feed the Hunger pack-a-thon in Burlington, N.C., last week. The goal of the students was to raise money and prepare, pack, and ship 50,000 meals to people in need throughout the world. and in some cases, Social Security numbers. Parents were allowed to submit forms requesting that their children's data be withheld. In reversing her original decision, Mueller said that "given the number of objections received, and the objections that will continue to be received, the court has not and cannot realistically review the objections individually. The court construes the objections in bulk as objecting strongly to public disclosure of personal identifying information contained in the [education department's] educational records." A representative of one plaintiff said she supported the judge's revised stance. Whatever approach the plaintiffs can use to "get access to current, valid, and accurate data is great," Christine English, the vice president of California Concerned Parents, told the San Jose Mercury News.  -CHRISTINA A. SAMUELS & SARAH TULLY sures" a strike or "a day of action" on April 1. The latest volley follows the district's steps to lay off 62 employees, including 17 teachers, in a bid to cut another $85 million from the budget. The district's current year budget had a gap that exceeded $400 million. With financial assistance from the state looking less and less likely, school officials have been making a series of cuts. The Chicago Teachers Union, which is operating under an expired contract, said the furloughs amount to a pay cut. The last strike, in 2012- the first in 25 years-shuttered the school system for seven days. -D.R.S. First Parent-Trigger School Leaves District Oversight The first school in the country to successfully use a parent-trigger law to become a charter school is leaving the oversight of the district that it has bitterly fought, accord- ing to The San Bernardino Sun. Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, Calif., became the first school to successfully use California's 2010 law allowing parents in low-performing schools to gather signatures to petition for overhauls. Parents in 2012 forced the Adelanto Elementary district to turn the campus into a charter school. The school's relationship with the district has remained rocky. In December, the Adelanto board voted against renewing the school's charter, The Sun reported. Now, the San Bernardino County board of education has agreed to take over as the oversight agency.  -SARAH TULLY ACLU Blasts District's Plan To Monitor Social Media Officials from the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama say that a school district's plan to use stu-

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 16, 2016

Education Week - March 16, 2016
States Hit Accelerator On Accountability
Immigrant Influxes Test U.S. Schools
Researchers Flag Downside Of Moving to Better Schools
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Potential Use of ‘Blockchain’ Tech for K-12 Debated by Experts
Blogs of the Week
Early-Education Measures Percolating at State, Local Levels
Acting Ed. Secretary Urges Congress to Renew Career-Tech Law
ESSA Rulemaking: A Guide to Negotiations
Blogs of the Week
ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN: Keeping Schoolhouse Doors Open for Immigrant Children
GARRETT NEIMAN: For Disadvantaged Students, New SAT Is First Step
Q&A With Author David Denby: A Quest for ‘Serious’ Reading In the Digital Age
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
ARNOLD PACKER: Should Citizenship Be a Goal of Education?

Education Week - March 16, 2016