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Nonpublic schools may not use money from the federal Chapter 2 program to finance field trips, the Rhode Island education department has ruled.

Officials said the decision was based on a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Wolman v. Walter, which found an "unacceptable risk of fostering of religion" if private schools used government funds for field trips.

The Sept. 2 decision, which applies to all nonpublic schools in the state, followed a request by the St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket to use Chapter 2 funding to pay for students' tickets to the plays "All the King's Men" and "Our Town."

Although the plays are secular in nature, the department said, teachers might offer a religious interpretation of them in class.

California police officers may detain young people on the basis of a "reasonable suspicion" that they are truant from school, the state supreme court has ruled.

The ruling overturns an appellate decision that such detentions were allowed only when police officers had "actual knowledge" that a student was truant, such as a school report containing the names of students absent without a valid reason.

The case involved a 17-year-old youth who was detained by police as a truancy suspect in 1983, although he had already graduated from high school. Newport Beach police discovered illegal drugs while searching the youth for weapons and subsequently filed criminal charges against him. The young man sought to have the charges dismissed on the grounds that the evidence had been obtained during an illegal detention and search.

Officials of the Texas State Teachers Association say they will cancel plans to hold their 1988 convention in Dallas unless the city's school board allows district teachers to collect training pay for attending.

Last year, Dallas school officials ended the district's longstanding policy of paying teachers to attend tsta conventions as part of their professional-development allowance. They said a little-noticed opinion by a previous state attorney general prohibited such payments.

The tsta, however, cites a more recent opinion approving the payments. The group says it will move the event if the Dallas board does not change its position at its meeting this week, and will ask the National Education Association to move its 1990 convention, also to be held in Dallas.

Wealthier communities in Rhode Island spend more per pupil on education than larger but poorer towns, according to a new report by a private watchdog group.

The study by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council found that, of the 10 towns that are so wealthy that they receive the minimum in state aid, 8 spent above the statewide average of $3,892.83 per pupil in 1985-86. At the same time, 4 of the 5 largest districts spent less than the state average.

The study also found that districts varied widely in how they allocated their resources. For example, the proportion of district budgets earmarked for instruction ranged from 42 percent to 63 percent, while that for general support and management ranged from 22 percent to 39 percent.

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