The Edge

Freedom Rings Hollow

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The Wedding Planner
Freedom for himself, but not his stepson -- that's the word Konstantin Daviskiba got from the government this month. The Ukrainian immigrant waited nine years, hoping for asylum in the U.S. ["American Limbo," December 7], before getting a painful split decision. The government told Daviskiba that the many punishments he endured as a Soviet dissident -- culminating in a vicious, anonymous assault -- didn't amount to persecution. He and his wife will be able to stay in the U.S., thanks to a new law granting mercy to long-waiting asylum-seekers. But without asylum, Daviskiba's 21-year-old stepson, Maxim -- ostracized by anti-American neighbors as the "son of a traitor" -- can't reunite with his parents for another eight years.

Attorney Richard Herman says the family is a victim of an indifferent bureaucracy whose judgment changes with international politics. "In the early to mid- '90s, he would have been approved," he says. Herman then recites the list of incidents his client suffered through. "If that's not persecution, I don't know what is . . ."

School Dazed

Maple Heights schools may want to hold off on major purchases for a while. The mother of the 13-year-old student who had sex with his teacher is suing the district in federal court.

In November, middle-school teacher Adrienne Clayton was sentenced to five years in prison for having sex with the student. Clayton confessed after police found sexually explicit letters she had written him. In addition to Clayton, the suit names the board of education, an assistant superintendent, a teacher, and two principals. Among other traumas, the suit says the boy is tested regularly for HIV . . .

Bulging Beck

Word is Beck Center is taking over the Riverside Academy of Music, thereby doubling the size of its student body. (In addition to housing a theater, Beck teaches classes in the arts.) Apparently, Beck Center will convert one of its buildings, the Lakewood armory, into a music school. This marks the first attempt at establishing a major arts center on the West Side. It's also a chance for Beck -- thought by many to be a provincial community theater -- to have a larger impact on Cleveland's arts scene. But if a deal is going through, it's still on the hush-hush. Riverside's acting director, Judy Votypka, declined comment.

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