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Courts in Missouri and Minnesota have issued rulings limiting the power of the states to regulate religiously affliated child-care programs.

In Missouri, Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr. held that state laws exempting church-affiliated day-care centers from licensing regulations were constitutional and a "reasonable accommodation" of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

The Child Day Care Association of St. Louis had challenged the exemptions, ar6guing that they gave church-related centers a competitive advantage over other programs.

The Minnesota case concerned a year-long effort by state officials to require a church-run preschool in Marshall to obtain a license as a day-care center.

District Judge George Harrelson declared that the state's move to make the church's program meet requirements for day-care centers was "vague and unconstitutional."

Judge Harrelson also recommended that the legislature clarify the state's definition of programs subject to licensing requirements, in order to offer "additional protection to the religious freedom of all Minnesotans."

The U.S. Supreme Court last month declined to review a ruling that upheld a Virginia law exempting church-run child-care centers from compliance with health and safety regulations. (See Education Week, Jan. 25, 1989.)


Trustees of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind have rejected a proposal to have the troubled facility licensed by the state department of health and rehabilitative services.

The proposal was one of 101 made by the department in a report written in the wake of a 9-year-old deaf and mentally handicapped pupil's death by scalding last year.

Instead, the board, which is not responsible to any state agency, voted to hire a consultant to the study the cost of meeting licensing standards.

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