National News Roundup
A federal appeals court has ruled that federal regulations barring sex discrimination in education are invalid because they do not limit prohibitions against sex bias to the individual programs and activities where the bias is alleged to exist.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit made the ruling on Dec. 16 in Hillsdale College v. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, a lawsuit involving a small private institution located in southeastern Michigan.
Since its founding in 1844, the college has refused to accept federal or state aid directly, although many of its students receive federal loans and grants.
The court's opinion is considered significant because it runs counter to the opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reached last summer in a similar case, Grove City College v. Bell.
In that case, the Third Circuit Court ruled that the college, as a whole, was required to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 because some of its students received federal aid.
In the Hillsdale case, the Sixth Circuit Court ruled that the college was required to comply with Title IX only in the federal grant and loan programs.
In a related development, a federal appeals court has ruled that a section of a Stamford, Conn., teachers' contract that provided male coaches with higher salaries than female coaches violated federal civil-rights policy.
In reaching that decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with a lower federal court and ordered the Stamford Education Association, the bargaining agent that negotiated the pact in 1975, to pay the settlement to the five female coaches who filed the lawsuit.
Because the teachers' union actively sought the discriminatory pay provisions, the court said, it saw no problem in allowing it "to bear the full economic impact" of the settlement.
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to order a southwestern Pennsylvania school system to reinstate bus service for kindergarten students after the service was eliminated in a budget-cutting move.
In Shaffer v. Board of School Directors, the Court refused to issue a stay of an appeals-court decision that said the Albert Gallatin Area School District did not violate the students' constitutional rights in discontinuing transportation for kindergarten students.
A petition for full Court review of the case is still pending before the Justices.
The suit was filed on behalf of low-income parents whose children left kindergarten after transportation was discontinued to save the district $65,000 annually.
The school district contended that Pennsylvania law gives discretion over kindergarten programs to local school boards.
The Justice Department has filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting white city employees in Boston who claim, in an appeal pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, that they were victims of "reverse discrimination" when they were laid off during a reduction-in-force.
The employees, firefighters, and police officers contend in Boston Firefighters Union v. Boston Chapter, naacp that Massachusetts law required that layoffs be based on seniority.
A federal district judge, however, ordered layoffs based on a previously mandated affirmative-action hiring plan that was designed to increase the proportion of black and Hispanic employees. The order was upheld by a federal appeals court last May.
The government's brief contended that the rulings by the lower courts "bring into being a new class of victims, completely innocent of any wrongdoing, by depriving them of their rights under a valid seniority system."
Last fall, the Court refused to hear a similar appeal from the Boston Teachers Union.