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A federal appeals court has ruled that North Carolina's interest in the education of its citizens outweighs the religious interests of parents who elect to teach their children at home.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reached that decision last month in a case involving Peter Duro, a fundamentalist Christian whose wife has been teaching their five children at home.

State law requires children 7 to 16 years of age to attend either private or public schools. Ms. Duro, who does not have a teaching certificate and has never been trained as a teacher, uses a Christian "self-teaching curriculum."

In its July 14 ruling in the case, Duro v. District Attorney, the court held that "the welfare of the children is paramount and that their future well-being mandates attendance at a public or nonpublic school." Furthermore, the court added that the parents failed to demonstrate that the instruction that their children receive prepares them "to be self-sufficient participants in our modern society or [enables] them to participate intelligently in our political system."

Teachers' Unions See Fewer Layoffs This School Year

Recently released estimates from the two major teachers' organizations suggest that fewer teachers will be laid off this fall than last year.

The American Federation of Teachers predicts that 38,000 teachers will lose their jobs during the coming school year, compared with 55,500 last year.

The National Education Association estimates that there will be at least 11,500 fewer full-time teaching positions in fall 1983 than in fall 1982.

But that figure may underestimate the actual number of layoffs, the organization said, because it is based on a survey that involves only school systems, in about half of the states, that have teaching staffs of 200 or more.

The aft predicts that the largest number of teachers--10,000--will be laid off in Illinois, while 6,000 will be furloughed in Pennsylvania and 5,000 in California.

The aft called this year's projections "encouraging," in comparison with the large numbers of layoffs in recent years.

Congress Approves Measure To Protect Commodity Program

An emergency bill approved by the Congress early this month will maintain the current levels of surplus commodities provided to the schools at the September 1983 level.

The provision was included in a bill designed to expand the current food-distribution program for the needy and to protect states from a reduction in benefits for the long-term unemployed.

The "hold-harmless" provision was included in the House version of the bill, HR 1590, but not in the Senate version. However, when the final version of the bill came up for approval, Senator Robert Dole, Republican of Kansas, indicated in his comments on the floor that the intent of the bill was to protect the schools' commodities.

The supply of commodities available to schools will depend--as it does now--on the availability of surplus food and the demand for emergency food donations.

Churches Offer Aid For College Costs Of Nonregistrants

Three churches that have a tradition of opposing war have started supplementing federal education aid to college students who refuse to register for the draft.

A national spokesman for the Church of the Brethren said that the church established a $10,000 fund last March to help members who have lost aid as a result of their decision not to register. The fund was created following the indictment and eventual conviction of Enten Eller, a member of the church. Mr. Eller was the first person to be tried for failure to register following the reinstatement of the draft sign-up law in 1980.

On Aug. 1, officials of the Mennonite Church approved a proposal to establish a similar fund for church members who are affected by the law.

In addition, a spokesman for the Religious Society of Friends, as the Quakers are formally known, said that several Quaker colleges have also established special financial-aid programs.

Last year the Congress approved an amendment to a Defense Department authorization bill that prohibits nonregistrants from obtaining federal grants and loans to attend college.

Enforcement of the new law has been delayed until Sept. 1, as the result of a lawsuit filed in federal dis-trict court in Minnesota. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear the case this fall.

A number of secular colleges--including Yale, Dartmouth, and the University of California system--also have offered to provide aid to nonregistrants.

District Petitions The Supreme Court In Dismissal Case

Unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns two lower-court rulings, school districts will face "a new wave of litigation" over dismissals of school employees, an Illinois district has told the Court.

A U.S. District Court and a U.S. Court of Appeals have ruled that the Paris Union School District in Illinois violated the due-process and property rights of Jesse Vail when it dismissed him after one year as a coach in the district. District officials had promised Mr. Vail that he would be rehired, according to court papers.

The coach claims that the district violated of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which holds states responsible for upholding citizens' constitutional rights.

In its petition for Supreme Court review of the case, the district said schools would be targets of an unmanageable number of lawsuits if the two decisions in favor of the coach were allowed to stand.

The petition also argues that any verbal contract would be invalid under Illinois law, since teachers must work under year-to-year contracts until they become eligible for tenure in their third year.

The coach was awarded $19,850 in damages by the district court.

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