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Young Audiences, a nonprofit arts-education organization based in New York, has received a $616,000 grant from the Mobil Oil Corporation to start its 37th chapter in Washington, D.C.

The arts organization, now in its 30th year, will use the grant to bring performances of music, dance, and theater to elementary-school-age children. Chapter officials will work with the public schools, and with local arts groups.

The program is intended to introduce children to the arts, and also to provide exposure for artists in theircommunity, a spokesman for the organization said.

After conducting auditions of local performers, chapter officials select artists to give single performances, or to spend a week or so in residence at a school.

After being chosen, the artists receive training in the communication skills needed to work with children--something that few performers are trained in, according to the spokesman.

The organization, which is also starting a chapter in Atlanta, hopes to begin the performances in Washington by the 1983-1984 school year.

The school board of Little Rock, Ark., has made good on its promise to sue two suburban systems to force merger and cross-district desegregation.

In a suit filed in late November in U.S. District Court, the city system, which is about 65 percent black, alleges that state authorities and officials of the North Little Rock and Pulaski County districts exacerbated racial segregation in the metropolitan area through racially restrictive housing policies and the choice of sites for schools and public housing. The suburban districts are predominantly white. (See Education Week, Aug. 25, 1982.)

"While there are some similarities in other districts, our lawyers say there's really no precedent for this," said Julia McGehee, a spokesman for the Little Rock board. The closest parallel is in St. Louis, where the city school board is seeking a similar consolidation with suburban districts. A trial in the St. Louis case is scheduled for March.

"All the defendants have said they would fight it to the last man," Ms. McGehee added. She predicted that the case would reach at least the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis.

Memphis voters last week overwhelmingly approved a -cent increase in the city's sales tax, which will enable public schools to avoid cutbacks in special education and extracurricular activities.

The measure, which had been defeated on Nov. 2 in a countywide referendum, passed this time in the city-only balloting, winning 59 percent of the votes cast. Superintendent Willie W. Herenton had warned that without extra revenue, the school system would have had to cut out extracurricular activities, enrichment classes, and some special-education programs.

The schools stand to gain about $13 million from the sales-tax increase, which was tied to a property-tax reduction. City employees, including teachers, will also benefit from the increase, which is expected to enable government agencies to grant raises.

A tougher discipline policy established in Seattle's public schools this year has had an uneven impact on student-absenteeism levels in the district.

In the first two months of the current school year, the number of students suspended for cutting classes or tardiness is lower than that for the same period last year. The number of students suspended for fighting or disrupting class, however, has increased.

James Hawkins, the district's public-information officer, said that the results were not unexpected. He said that an increase in suspensions was "anticipated as students tested the rule to see if we were serious about what was being proposed."

Under the new policy, according to Mr. Hawkins, parents are notified when their children have two unexcused absences. If any additional absences occur, a conference is scheduled between the school and parents.

Mr. Hawkins said that students with five unexcused absences from a class period are dropped from that class. He said the district has also begun a "re-entry program" in three high school for students who have been suspended from school.

The main emphasis of the re-entry program, according to Mr. Hawkins, would be on determining the cause of the problem and changing the behavior pattern which created it.

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