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Oregon E.D. to Fund Antelope District

Verne A. Duncan, Oregon's superintendent of public instruction, agreed last month to release $2,202 in state funds for basic school support to the Antelope School District, which is operated by followers of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

The band of followers has been a source of controversy in the state since it bought property and moved into the rural town several years ago. Residents of the town have complained in press reports that the outsiders have taken over their local agencies and programs, and some older residents have moved out.

Prior to releasing the funds, the Oregon Department of Education completed an on-site study to determine whether the district had the capacity to provide an adequate high-school program for students. The district had not offered such a program in more than 30 years, according to Alan H. Davidson, executive assistant to Mr. Duncan; department officials found that it did, he said.

The department's decision to fund the district has generated an "overwhelming amount of mail" from the public. Much of the mail has consisted of complaints that the department has allocated public funds to support church-related activities, Mr. Davidson said.

The department provided the money to meet its obligation to see that the district can provide "an adequate high-school program for its students," Mr. Davidson explained. The district is a "legally constituted public-school district," although it has undergone "a total change in population" in recent years, he added.

The state department of education will conduct a follow-up study in November to determine whether the Antelope district has implemented the programs it must provide.

Spanking Results In Lawsuit Against Tennessee District

A $60,000 lawsuit has been filed against the Knoxville Board of Education by a parent who claims a teacher spanked her 4th-grade daughter so hard that the child required hospital treatment.

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 19 in Knox County Circuit Court, states that Bobbie Jo Osbourne required medical attention after she was "whipped'' with a wooden paddle by her mathematics teacher. The child was treated at East Tennessee Children's Hospital for "swelling of the buttocks, severe dark bruising on the buttocks, and severe physical pain accompanied by extreme emotional distress," the suit states.

The student's mother, Bonnie Lennon, also said that the spanking violated school-board policies that require notifying the school principal before spanking a child, obtaining a witness, and using other methods to solve the problem first.

Ms. Lennon has asked for $50,000 in punitive and compensatory damages and $10,000 for medical expenses.

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