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Parents of Epileptics Sue to Get Children Into Special Classes

The parents of two epileptic students in Kansas have filed the nation's first class-action suit seeking special education for epileptics.

The suit asks that the definition of a "health-impaired" student under the federal Education for All Handicapped Children Act be expanded to include students with epilepsy.

The case may have a nationwide effect, according to lawyers and education officials.

A hearing began on Sept. 1 in U.S. District Court and is scheduled to resume on Sept. 22.

One of the first questions Judge Patrick Kelly must decide is whether the lawsuit should include all epileptic students in Kansas.

Madeline Akers, who initiated the suit on behalf of her 19-year-old son, Anthony, was later joined in the action by the parents of Phillip O. Moore, 16.

Mrs. Akers is asking that she be reimbursed for "out-of-pocket expenses" incurred for the testing and tutoring of her son, according to Robert L. Feldt, the family's attorney.

Mr. Feldt said the school system's failure to provide special education and related services caused Anthony Akers to dislike school and to drop out for a year. If the young man had been classified as a special-education student, the school would have been required by federal law to test him frequently and to provide an appropriate academic program.

But testing by the school system has been "incomplete and always at the mother's insistence," Mr. Feldt said.

Many predominantly black schools of education are on the brink of extinction, the dean of one such school told a congressional committee last week.

Testifying during two days of U.S. House subcommittee hearings on the troubles surrounding the nation's teacher-training programs, Mary T. Christian of the Hampton Institute said that black institutions have been hurt most by changing social conditions that have resulted in huge declines in the numbers of college students entering education (see related story on page 6).

"I'm making a plea for the survival of the black [education] colleges," Ms. Christian told the committee.

The number of able black students choosing to enter teaching has dwindled because of the increased number of fields open to young blacks, she testified. And black colleges cannot compete with large institutions offering scholarships, she said.

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