Attorneys for Philadelphia's City Board of Trusts plan to go to court this week to seek permission to drop the boys-only admissions policy of Girard College, a residential elementary and secondary school administered by the city.
The legality of the admissions policy of the 134-year-old school--which is funded by a private bequest and admits only indigent, male orphans--has been challenged by women's rights advocates, who in a lawsuit filed this summer charged that the policy violates the state constitution. (See Education Week, Aug. 18.)
The board will ask the Philadelphia Orphans Court to allow the school to admit girls in order to help stabilize the school's enrollment, which has varied over the years because of changing definitions of who is an orphan, and to comply with current laws.
The lawsuit filed this summer by the Women's Law Project in Philadelphia and the National Organization for Women Legal Defense and Education Fund sought admission to Girard College for a 12-year-old girl under the state's 1971 Equal Rights Amendment.
Commenting on the board's action, Rita Bernstein, of the Women's Law Project, said: "We applaud the effort. If the court goes along and grants the relief we seek, then we will drop the suit."
Because the state has no institution comparable to Girard College, said a city official, the state law and a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling "clearly mandate" that the school not deny admission to girls, whose circumstances would otherwise qualify them for admission. (In July, the Court ruled that a state-supported nursing school in Mississippi could not constitutionally exclude men.)
The Southeastern Educational Information System, a cooperative information-sharing project of 10 southeastern states, received a boost recently when the computer firm of Monroe Systems for Business agreed to lend the network 16 microcomputers for one year.
The information network is a project of the Southeastern Regional Council for Educational Improvement. The computers will give all of the states access to the data and analyses compiled by the network's staff.
The computers will also allow officials to create simulations of the effects of federal and state policy changes on the region.
The 1.7 million-member National Education Association announced last week that it is seeking applicants and nominees to fill the job of executive director, which will open next June 1, when the resignation of Terry Herndon, who has held the position for more than nine years, becomes effective.
Candidates for the position--which includes responsibility for managing the association's various professional and political programs, a $75-million annual budget, and a 600-member staff--have until Oct. 31 to apply.