New Jersey Town Loses Tolerance - After 50 suspensions and police files created in six weeks for children - mostly between kindergarten and third grade - the Manalapan school board voted to end the towns' zero-tolerance policy. Initiated following the school shooting at Santana High School in San Diego in March, the policy mandated that any school official who heard a threat made by a student was required to refer the matter to the police who, in turn, alerted prosecutors. Prosecutors filed charges against everybody, sparking a parental backlash. Among those charged, according to The New York Times: a 12-year-old boy who told another boy who shoved him in a football game, "I'll kill you!"
Not Quite Summerhill, But ... - The Bay Area School of Enterprise (BASE) Charter School was approved last month by the Alameda (Calif.) Unified School District Board, billing itself as the first U.S. charter school ever designed and developed by youth. The youth founders were members of HOME, a youth empowerment program that will share its facilities with the new school. The school is somewhat reminiscent of the Summerhill School, the British institution that is run partly by its students. The BASE school, whose first bell rings on Sept. 4, will focus on individualized education plans for its 40 students between grades 9 and 12. "If you're really interested in earth science, we'll base your classes around that area of study," said founding student Carolyn VerDuin. "If you're having a hard time with English, your English assignments will be writing or reading about earth science, a subject that you are really interested in learning about."
Hale House Co-Founder Resigns - Lorraine Hale, president of celebrity charity of choice Hale House, resigned her $200,000-a-year position last month amid allegations of financial irregularities. Hale House, founded in New York City by Hale and her mother, Clara, in 1969, says it currently serves children whose mothers are incarcerated. Since Clara Hale died 1992, New York's Daily News reports that Hale and other Hale House employees misused hundred of thousands of dollars, that the house spent $2.8 million on mail campaigns last year while using only $54,000 for food and clothing for the center's residents, and that 21 children lived in Hale House while it was licensed to hold only six. Hale's husband, Jesse Devore, who was paid $110,000 as Hale House's director of public relations, will also step down. A new board of directors will be installed.
Alcoholic Pops Targeted to Youth - The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says that new sugary-sweet alcoholic beverages appeal largely to underage drinkers rather than to adults. The reasoning behind the pop's youthful appeal, said CSPI, was the look, flavor, disguised alcohol taste and marketing. Forty-one percent of 14- to 19-year-olds report having tried an alcopop, CSPI reported. It asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to demand changes to the label designs and require alcopop producers to submit their marketing plans and "alcoholism and underage drinking impact assessments" to the agency before their labels are approved.
For more information, visit http://www.cspinet.org/new/alcopop.html.
Youth Volunteers Honored - Two youth volunteers from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were named state honorees at the sixth annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last month. Each recipient, chosen from among 23,000 high school and middle school students, received $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and a trip to Washington, D.C., for a week. The top 10 honorees got $5,000 each. For information about the honorees, go to www.prudential.com/community/spirit/awards/cmsaz1000.html.