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The Massachusetts attorney-general's office and the parents of 16 children filed suit last week against two couples who live on wealthy Brattle Street in Cambridge, alleging that they conspired with city officials to keep a private elementary school whose enrollment was predominantly made up of minority children from operating in their neighborhood.

Four mid-level city officials were also named in the lawsuit, filed Oct. 16 in Middlesex Superior Court. The suit alleges that the officials harassed the Commonwealth Day School by denying permits and refusing to pick up its trash.

The school operated in an old mansion on Brattle Street in Cambridge in 1988-89, but moved back to Boston after continuing uncertainty about its legal status made it difficult to enroll students for the 1989-90 school year. (See Education Week, Oct. 11, 1989.)

The lawsuit charges that four residents of the street violated the civil rights of the plaintiffs by conspiring or cooperating with a campaign to prevent the school from operating at the mansion at 113 Brattle St. One of the couples, Ralph and Charlotte Sorenson, last week filed a countersuit against the attorney-general's office.

A growing number of school districts along the New Madrid fault line in the Midwest have decided to cancel classes in early December in response to a prediction that a major earthquake will occur on or around Dec. 3.

Although seismologists have long predicted that the area is likely to be hit by a major earthquake over the next several decades, educators and others began paying more attention to the fault earlier this year, when an independent climatologist said a quake may occur there on or around Dec. 3. (See Education Week, Oct. 3, 1990.)

In Cape Girardeau, Mo., for example, the school board earlier this month voted to cancel classes on Dec. 3 and 4. "The main reason is the apprehension and anxiety people feel about the prediction," said the district's superintendent, Arthur Turner. "I don't think there is going to be one then."

He said the district has also decided to spend between $35,000 and $50,000 on earthquake preparedness, including emergency equipment and supplies.

Edward F. Stancik, deputy chief of the Manhattan district attorney's rackets bureau, has been appointed to head New York City's probe into corruption in the public-school system.

Mayor David N. Dinkins announced the appointment earlier this month, after the Joint Commission on Integrity in the Public Schools recommended that such a post be created. (See Education Week, June 13, 1990.)

Mr. Stancik, 35, will head the office of the deputy commissioner of investigation, which will come under the city's commissioner of investigation. The office will be independent of the city school system and is expected to continue investigating corruption in the city's many community school districts.

A former school administrator who was charged with stealing state education funds in one of the biggest corruption cases in Arizona history has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in return for a reduced sentence.

Daryle E. Cue, a former superintendent in Gila Bend, Ariz., had been indicted on six counts of bribery and four counts of theft in connection with the alleged misappropriation of $450,000 in federal grants that were supposed to have been routed by the state to universities and county school districts. (See Education Week, Sept. 19, 1990.)

Prosecutors have alleged that the scheme, which ran for more than eight years, was the brainchild of James Hartgraves, a former deputy superintendent in the state education department. Mr. Hartgraves has not been charged in the case.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Mr. Cue pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and agreed to make full restitution of the funds. In addition, triple damages may be assessed in the case under the terms of the state's anti-racketeering laws, bringing the total restitution to $1.4 million.

If other individuals are convicted in the case, they could be ordered to repay a share of the judgment against his client, said Jeremy Toles, Mr. Cue's lawyer.

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