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Grand Rapids Drops 'Shared-Time'

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Public-school officials in Grand Rapids, Mich., have decided against implementing a modified version of the school district's controversial shared-time program of instruction for students in church-affiliated schools.

According to Donald Lennon, who directed the program, the threat of a lawsuit, combined with unresolvable logistical problems, caused the city's school board to vote against the effort this month.

Last July, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the district's program unconstitutional on the grounds that it represented excessive government entanglement with religion.

Under the program, which involved about 3,000 students from 16 private schools last year, public-school teachers were sent to the private schools to provide art, music, physical-education, and other enrichment courses.

Shortly after the Court handed down its ruling, the city's school board began investigating whether the program could be modified to8conform to constitutional standards, Mr. Lennon said. A short while later, he continued, lawyers representing the parents who had sued the district threatened another lawsuit if the proposed modifications did not involve the mixing of public- and private-school students in the shared-time classes.

Mr. Lennon said the district tried to develop a plan that would have permitted public- and private-school students to attend classes together, but determined that such a plan created insurmountable transportation, scheduling, and class-size problems.--tm

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