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Fewer white students are leaving Chicago's public schools, reversing a five-year trend in the district, according to the results of the board of education's annual survey.

The number of white students in the district declined by nearly 5,000--or 6.5 percent of all white students--last year, compared to an average yearly decline of about 10,900--or 10.3 percent of whites--during the last five years, according to a spokesman for the school department.

The district has a total enrollment of 435,843 students, according to the survey.

About 16.3 percent of them are white; 61 percent are black; 20.4 percent are Hispanic; and 2.3 percent are Asian.


An assistant principal at a junior high school in Memphis was suspended without pay for five days and reassigned to a desk job after 35 girls at the school were strip-searched during their physical-education class.

Palmer Mosby, assistant principal at Colonial Junior High School, called his punishment "fair," and said he felt "lucky to have my job.''

He claimed the incident resulted from a "breakdown in communication'' when he ordered the girls searched "from head to toe."

The incident occurred last month, when a female student in a gym class came back to the locker room and reported that $34 was missing from her gym bag.

Mr. Mosby questioned the students, then ordered four female teachers to take the students into the locker room and search them. The girls said they were taken into shower stalls individually and strip searched.

The money was not found.

No disciplinary action was taken against the teachers, but Willie B. Herenton, the Memphis school superintendent, said teachers have a responsibility to use "good judgment" when placed in such situations.

Mr. Mosby has been in the Memphis school system for 19 years, including 12 years as an assistant principal.

Three complaints have been filed with the American Civil Liberties Union since the incident.

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