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Two lawyers in the Education Department's office for civil rights who were denied promotions for failing to submit to an internal security check have sued Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell, other department officials, and Donald J. Devine, director of the office of personnel management.

In a suit filed last month in U.S. District Court in Washington, Kathleen Flake and William Delaney charged that they ought not to have been required to submit to a "full-field security investigation" before being promoted to senior trial lawyers.

According to papers filed with the court, they said their new jobs would not require them to deal with classified information or participate in the development of overall department policy, conditions that necessitate the security clearance. Requirements for security checks have been broadened under the Reagan Administration. The plaintiffs also allege that incumbent senior trial lawyers have not been required to submit to the intensive inquiry to keep their jobs.

Investigators conducting security checks examine the applicants' "character, habits, morals, associations, and reputation," and pay particular attention to their "loyalty," according to federal personnel rules.


A federal appeals court has ruled that a Pennsylvania school district need not hold due-process hearings before changing a handicapped student's mode of transportation to and from school.

A change in transportation does not necessarily represent a change in "educational placement" within the meaning of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, P.L. 94-142, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in DeLeon v. Susquehanna Community School District.

The touchstone for determining when due-process hearings are required "is whether a decision is likely to affect in some significant way the child's learning experience," the court held. "In some areas, it may be possible to draw bright lines. ... On the other hand, there are areas where bright lines will be impossible to draw. Transportation services are such an area."

According to the court, the school district's decision to transport a retarded child to school with other children by bus, with a 10-minute increase in travel time on the child's trip home, "will not generally have [a significant] impact on the child's learning experience."

The lawsuit was brought by the child's parents, who have been transporting the child to school in their car.

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