The following were among actions taken at the Jan. 20 meeting of the District of Columbia Board of Education. For more information, call 724-4284.
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT -- The board deferred action on exempting some specialized instructors from the District's residency requirement, and referred the issue to its rules committee for consideration.
Board member Bob Boyd (Ward 6), who introduced the motion to exempt the positions, said the school system's failure to fill seven positions for bilingual instructors in a program for non-English speaking handicapped children may lead to a loss of federal funds.
The council sent Boyd's proposal to the Committee on Rules, Human Resources, Management and Legislation, which now must consider its merits.
Boyd, chairman of the Committee on Specialized Educational Programs, said the D.C. school system received a $190,045 grant last October from the U.S. Department of Education to establish special care programs for handicapped non-English speaking children. But, he said, the school system has not yet hired the bilingual therapists and teachers needed. Boyd argued that because of these vacant positions, the federal funds may be withdrawn and not made available again for the next two years.
In addition to forfeiting the grant -- which would have been renewable for two years for a total of nearly $600,000 -- the school system eventually may be sued by parents angered by its failure to provide the service, and may have to spend enormous sums in legal fees and possible damage awards, Boyd said.
The residency requirement has long been a volatile issue in city politics, and Boyd's request for a waiver again roused staunch defense of the rule.
"I think we ought to be very clear that there is a movement afoot to remove the residency requirement," said board member Calvin Lockridge (Ward 8), one of the residency requirement's most ardent supporters. However, he noted that earlier in the day, Mayor Marion Barry had asked for a waiver of the residency requirement for paramedics because of problems with city ambulance crews. At the board's December meeting, Lockridge said that if the school system's personnel office was unable to find qualified District residents, he would find them himself. But Boyd said the school system had yet to get any referrals from Lockridge.
Board member David Eaton (At Large) urged the board to check on the school system's recruitment efforts. He held up a copy of a small advertisement for the positions that had appeared in The Washington Post, and asked if greater efforts might not yield qualified applicants.
Board member Phyllis Etheridge Young (At Large) agreed with Boyd, pointing out that the school system has a shortage of school therapists, who are hired by the city's Department of Human Services. The department has been unable to keep the schools adequately supplied, she said. She also said waiving the residency requirement in a dire situation need not be construed as abandonment of the residency rule.
"We will lose services and become vulnerable," without the waiver, Young said.
But on a voice vote, the board decided to let the rules committee decide if a change in rules is warranted in this case. If the committee decides it is, the matter will come before the board again within the next few months. If the board approves the change, the final decision rests with the D.C. Council.
LIQUOR LICENSE APPLICATIONS -- Superintendent Floretta Dukes MacKenzie reported that the school system has protested to the city's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board the liquor license applications of Dupont Szechuan Restaurant at 1602 17th St. NW, near Ross Elementary School, and of 3300 Deli at 3300 M St. NW, near the Prospect Learning Center. The board protests applications for liquor licenses by businesses within 400 feet of schools.