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Church Schools Offered Pact

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The Michigan Department of Education has offered two Baptist schools a way to conclude a seven-year legal battle over state teacher-licensing rules by agreeing to accept information about their instructors from a neutral third party.

The department offered the compromise to the Bridgeport Baptist and Sheridan Road Baptist schools, which filed suit in 1980 challenging a law that requires private schools to employ only certified teachers. The schools claimed that this stipulation and other state standards violated their constitutional rights, including their right to the free exercise of religion.

The U.S. Supreme Court, however, refused this year to hear the case on appeal from the Michigan Supreme Court, which had issued a split decision in November 1986.

Last month, the education department said the schools could agree to submit the required information on the number and degree status of faculty members through a third party--either an attorney or a private-school association. The agreement was designed to satisfy the schools' opposition to giving the information directly to the state.

The schools have discussed the offer with state officials, but have not yet agreed to it, said James L. Phelps, associate superintendent. The arrangement will not be final until the schools enter their agreement with the court.--kg

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