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The Detroit Board of Education last week settled a lawsuit over its proposed all-male academies for young African-American pupils, essentially agreeing to abide by its earlier decision to open the schools to girls. (See Education Week, Sept. 4, 1991 .)

In a preliminary ruling on Aug. 15, U.S. District Judge George E. Woods ruled that the district's proposed all-male academies were unconstitutional, and he ordered school officials to admit girls.

The board voted Aug. 27 to provide 136 spaces for girls, but also to defend the all-male concept in further court proceedings. The district was sued by the mother of three girls who originally would not have qualified for the special academies. The lawsuit was backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York City.

Under the settlement, approved by a 6-to-3 board vote on Nov. 6, the three academies will remain open to girls, the curriculum will be "gender neutral" except for such areas as contact sports and sex education, and teacher assignments will not be made based on gender.

The settlement will avert a legal battle that some experts said could cost the school district as much as $1 million.

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