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The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that nontenured teachers have a right to be told by school districts why they will not be rehired, but that the districts do not have to justify their decisions.

The May 15 ruling reversed an earlier decision in which the high court had ruled that nontenured teachers were entitled to be notified of what "undesirable qualities" led to their firing.

In its new ruling, the court called its previous ruling inaccurate, saying it suggested that nontenured teachers could only be fired for specific reasons.

The ruling was made in the case of Carolyn Birgenheier, who filed suit in 1986 against the Yellowstone County School District after her teaching contract was not renewed.

The district told Ms. Birgenheier that she would not be rehired because her contract had expired, prompting the teacher to sue for a more detailed reason.

A district court judge in Helena ordered the district to give its reasons. That ruling was upheld by the high court in a 6-1 decision.


The Kentucky Board of Education has approved a resolution barring school districts in the state from signing contracts to show "Channel One," the commercially sponsored, in-school television newscast.

The board voted this month to draft a formal regulation barring the use of commercially sponsored shows in the classroom. "Channel One," which is part of Whittle Communication's Educational Network, features a daily 10-minute news report along with 2 minutes of commercials.

At least three other states have effectively banned the program from their schools.

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