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Beginning next month, the New York City board of education will enter the business of training adults to become licensed practical nurses.

Some 100 people will participate in the six-, nine-, and 12-month courses, which are to be co-sponsored by the city's health and hospitals corporation and the union representing licensed practical nurses and technicians in the city.

The program will be paid for with federal funds provided under the Vocational Education Act. The would-be nurses will receive their classroom instruction at the board of education's adult-training center and clinical training at various Manhattan hospitals.

George Quarles, head of the school system's occupational- and career-education programs, said that, because of budget cuts, the nurse-training program is the first public-school project for adults to be sponsored by the city's school board in several years.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People may seek for a third time to become a formal party to Chicago's 20-year-old school-desegregation case.

The naacp, which twice has been denied the chance to join the case, was to file comments last week on the desegregation plan that the Chicago board submitted earlier this year to U.S. District Judge Milton I. Shadur. The plan calls for some redrawing of attendance zones, but relies primarily on voluntary transfers to "magnet schools." The plan, which was approved by the Justice Department this month, would not use mandatory busing and would leave some 350 schools racially isolated.

The naacp contends that voluntary measures have already been proven ineffective in Chicago and that the continued racial isolation is unacceptable, even with the program improvements promised in the plan. The organization has called for mandatory reassignment of students to desegregate the schools.

The plan is "a perversion" of the consent decree reached in 1980 between the board and the Justice Department, said Michael Sussman, a lawyer who helped to negotiate the agreement for the Justice Department and is now with the naacp

As for the possibility that the civil-rights organization will seek to enter the case, Mr. Sussman said: "There was some question as to our differences with the Justice Department's position. I think they're quite clear now."

Judge Shadur is expected to rule on the board's desegregation plan in March, according to a spokesman for the Chicago school system.

The school board in Berkeley, Calif., one of the first in the country to desegregate its schools without prodding from the courts, is now trying to maintain racial balance on its teaching staff by making race a factor in layoffs.

Negotiators for the board and the Berkeley Federation of Teachers are discussing a contract provision that would permit the district to maintain the current racial mix of the staff by keeping on minority teachers, even if they have less seniority than white teachers, should layoffs be needed.

Of the 714 staff members in the district who hold teaching certificates, including guidance counselors and a few administrators, 61.1 percent are white; 26.1 percent are black; 6.9 percent are Asian; 4.3 percent are Hispanic; 0.4 percent are American Indians; and 1.2 percent are Pacific Islanders.

Under the "last-hired-first-fired" system, Berkeley lost many of its minority teachers in past layoffs, said Beth Mesnick, spokesman for the district. And in special education, the one field in which the district has hired in recent years, "we have not been able to attract minority teachers," she said.

Ms. Mesnick said she believed Berkeley, a 9,500-student district, is the first in California to seek such a contract provision.

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