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High Court Hears Arguments Over Texas 'Residency' Law

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Washington--A Texas law that permits public-school officials to deny admission to students who reside apart from their parents in order to attend better schools was challenged in arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

The 1978 law, which requires students to prove they are not living in a particular locale "for the primary purpose of attending the free public schools," was designed to discourage migration of Mexicans to the state, contended Edward Tuddenham, an attorney representing a 14-year-old Mexican boy.

A special assistant attorney general for the state, however, said the statute also discouraged transfers by student athletes and students seeking to avoid mandatory busing for desegregation. The law was upheld by lower federal courts.

The case, Martinez v. Bynum, is the second lawsuit alleging discrimination against Mexicans in Texas to reach the Court in two years. A law that permitted schools to deny admission to illegal-alien children was struck down by the Court last year, in Plyler v. Doe. (See Education Week, June 23, 1982.)

In other action, the Court:

Held that unions that do not properly represent workers in employment-related grievances may be required to pay financial damages if the employee wins a lawsuit against his employer. The 5-to-4 ruling in Bowen v. U.S. Postal Service permitted liability to be shared jointly between the union and the employer "according to the damage caused by the fault of each."

Agreed to rule on a lawsuit by a former school administrator from Warren, Ohio, who claimed she was fired because her views on curriculum and desegregation conflicted with those of school officials. The issues in Migra v. Warren City School District were decided in the administrator's favor in a separate lawsuit brought in state court.

Refused to stay a federal court order that required the Phoenix Union High School District to turn over the minutes of a confidential school-board meeting to federal civil-rights investigators. A petition for Court review of the lawsuit, Phoenix Union High School District v. U.S. , is still pending.

Upheld a federal court order that permitted the Moon Area School District in western Pennsylvania to levy a 15-percent tax on commercial parking. The case is Grant-Oliver Corp. v. Moon Area School District.

Denied a petition for Court review of a decision against an American Indian in the state of Washington who claimed he should have been hired for a federally funded school-counselor position. In Johnson v. Central Valley School District, the counselor claimed he deserved preference over a more qualified, non-Indian applicant because the position was funded under a law providing educational assistance to Indian students.

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