Federal News Roundup
The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to review a federal appeals court's ruling that a Texas teacher who resigned under pressure should have been granted an administrative hearing before his resignation took effect.
The case, North East Independent School District v. Findeisen (Case No. 84-1607), stemmed from the August 1981 resignation of a tenured San Antonio-area teacher. The teacher was hired in 1977 to teach science at the high-school level but was transferred to a middle school in 1980.
He filed a grievance protesting the transfer, claiming that district officials had reneged on a promise to give him a high-school-level science position as soon as one opened, but the action was unsuccessful.
In early 1981, the teacher was transferred back to his high school but to a position in the mathematics department. School officials accepted his resignation in August 1981, stating in a letter that that he would be considered for a science position if one opened up. Two such vacancies occurred in the next two months but they were filled by other teachers.
The teacher filed suit in federal district court, claiming that his resignation was forced and that he was denied a hearing before losing his job in violation of Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1873. Under Texas law, he would have been en-titled to such a hearing if he had chosen to be fired rather than to resign.
In papers filed with the Court, the school district unsuccessfully argued that the appeals court's ruling should have been overturned because it "failed to recognize that when a teacher resigns, even if based on a promise that is subsequently broken, a predeprivation hearing is unrealistic and impractical."
The Senate has unanimously approved a measure to establish a 16-member national panel to study the causes of illiteracy.
The measure, sponsored by Democratic Senator Edward Zorinsky of Nebraska, was passed as an amendment to the Defense Department's 1986 authorization bill.
Senator Zorinsky had introduced separate legislation in April calling for a panel with a $1-million funding ceiling. The new language authorizes $500,000.
Senator Robert T. Stafford, Republican of Vermont and chairman of the Senate education subcommittee, proposed that the funding level be halved. He said much of the proposed panel's work has been done already, citing the recent federal report, "Becoming a Nation of Readers."
Senator Zorinsky defended attaching his legislation to the defense bill, saying that the Army is among those that pay a particularly high cost for the problem of illiteracy. The Army, he said, "spent over $14 million last year to bring its recruits up to the 9th-grade level in reading--and 90 percent were high-school graduates."
The House must pass the legislation and the Congress must then appropriate the authorized money before the illiteracy commission can be established.
The number of white males heading the state advisory committees of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has more than quadrupled following a rechartering of the 50 panels, according to statistics recently released by the commission.
The restructuring, which takes place every two years, increased the number of state panels headed by white males from eight to 33.
Men now head 46 state civil-rights panels; women head four. Formerly, men chaired 31 of the advisory committees, while women presided over 20. Of the new male chairmen, eight are black, three are Hispanic and two are American Indians. Only one of the minority committee heads, a black, is a woman.
Whites now chair a total of 36 panels. Under the former arrangement, 15 whites headed state panels.
Of the 550 members of the 5l advisory panels, 313 are new appointees. The District of Columbia, whose restructuring is incomplete, is not included in the new statistics.
Critics argue that the restructuring reflects the commission's increasingly conservative stance with respect to civil rights for racial minorities and women. Members of the advisory panels are approved by the eight commissioners who make up the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.