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High Court Turns Down Chicago Desegregation Appeal

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Washington--The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to review a federal appeals court's October 1984 ruling that limited the federal government's obligations to pay for school-desegregation efforts in Chicago.

Chicago school officials had asked the Justices to examine the appeals court's reversal of an order requiring the government to provide the city with $103.8 million in school-desegregation aid this year and similar amounts in subsequent years.

U.S. District Judge Milton I. Shadur ordered the payment last August after determining that the gov3ernment had failed to meet financial obligations suggested in the wording of a 1980 consent decree that settled the government's lawsuit against the city.

Decree Misinterpreted

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, however, ruled that Judge Shadur had misinterpreted the decree. It ruled that the government was obliged only to give the city "top-of-the-line" priority for funds from Education Department accounts that can be used for desegregation purposes. (See Education Week, Oct. 3, 1984.)

Chicago officials unsuccessfully argued that the appellate court's ruling impaired the ability of federal courts to enforce consent decrees against the federal government. The case was Board of Education of the City of Chicago v. U.S. (Case No. 84-1366).

Also last week, the Court declined to review a case in which the parents of a handicapped child sought reimbursement for the cost of their daughter's private-school tuition pending the outcome of judicial proceedings. A federal appeals court had ruled that because Hawaii school officials had offered an appropriate placement for the child after the proceeding had begun, such payments were not necessary.

The case, Katherine D. v. Department of Education of the State of Hawaii (No. 84-1551), differed from a similar Massachusetts case recently decided by the Court in that the child's proposed public-school placement had been judged appropriate. In School Committee of the Town of Burlington v. Massachusetts Department of Education, state hearing officers and federal courts ruled that because a handicapped child's parents made the correct decision when they placed their son in a private school, they were entitled to be reimbursed for tuition payments.

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