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High Court Declines To Review Iowa Church School's Appeal

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Washington--The U.S. Supreme Court declined last month to hear the argument of a Charles City, Iowa, Baptist church that the school it operates is protected against state regulation by the First Amendment.

The suit, Pruessner v. Benton (Case No. 85-671), stems from a 1982 decision by the Iowa Board of Public Instruction to deny the church's request that its members be declared exempt from compliance with the state's truancy law.

Under the law, parents can be prosecuted if they fail to send their children to schools that report to the state on enrollment and curriculum and employ state-certified teachers. State officials estimate that about 77 of Iowa's 230 private schools are not in compliance with the law's standards.

Last August, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected the church members' argument that, because education is an integral part of the church's ministry, state regulation of the school violates the First Amendment's guarantees of religious freedom.4(See Education Week, Aug. 21, 1984)

The Justices last month also declined to review Shuba v. Austintown Board of Education (No. 85-692), a case stemming from the 1979 dismissal of a Youngstown, Ohio, public-school teacher assigned to teach Catholic school students as part of the state's "auxiliary-services" program.

According to papers filed with the Court, public-school officials decided to fire the teacher, Kathryn Shuba, after receiving a letter from the Catholic school's principal that was highly critical of her.

Ms. Shuba contended that, because she taught her lessons in a van parked just off the parochial school's property, she was not provided with the type of coaching and evaluation available to other teachers employed by the public-school district.

Such disparate treatment, Ms. Shuba argued, ultimately resulted in her dismissal and thus violated her 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection.


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