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Wisconsin Court Backs District In Teacher-Certification Dispute

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Vocational-school instructors who teach Wisconsin public-school students need not be certified by the state department of public instruction, a state appeals court has ruled in a closely watched case.

The unanimous decision this month by the Third District Court of Appeals upheld a ruling made earlier by the department of public instruction in a long-running dispute between the Green Bay school district and the local teachers' union.

At issue is a seven-year-old contract arrangement between the school board and nearby Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College. It provides for Green Bay high-school students to take elective courses for credit at the vocational school.

The Green Bay Education Association tried to put a stop to the practice in 1985 by asking Herbert J. Grover, the state superintendent, to withdraw state aid from the district.

The teachers argued that the district should lose its funds because it was out of compliance with a state law prohibiting teachers who are not certified by the state department of public instruction from teaching public-school students. Instructors in4Wisconsin's Vocational Technical Adult Education system are certified by a separate board.

The teachers also claimed that the practice violated their constitutional guarantees to equal protection under the law.

Mr. Grover ruled in favor of the district. His decision was later upheld by the Brown County Circuit Court.

The appellate court, in its Feb. 6 opinion, agreed with the lower court. The judges said other state laws specifically authorize school districts to contract with state vocational and technical schools.

"We also conclude," the judges wrote, "that there is a rational basis for permitting vtae instructors of public-school students in vocationally related courses."

Richard Feldhausen, executive director of the Green Bay Education Association, said the organization would "probably" appeal the decision.

"The state of Wisconsin requires teachers of public-school students to go through rigorous training in instruction and methodology and other areas," he said. "Otherwise, you really open up the door to allow for certification of almost anybody."--dv

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