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Bilingual Placement Methods Challenged

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Two suits have been filed challenging the legality of the New Jersey Board of Education's new requirement that certain bilingual students be transferred into English-only classes.

Under a controversial policy unanimously adopted by the state board last year, such decisions are to be based on a single English-proficiency test, and not on additional factors such as teacher evaluations and mastery of basic skills. (See Education Week, Nov. 18, 1987.)

The suits were filed with the New Jersey Superior Court's appellate division on Feb. 2 and 4, one by the state's public advocate's office and the other by a consortium of school boards and the New Jersey Education Association.

The plaintiffs charge that the state board and commissioner of education did not offer a sufficient rationale for the change, which was opposed by most witnesses testifying before the board.

They also allege that the new policy violates federal and state equal-educational-opportunity laws.--dg

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