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Judge Blocks Rochester Bar on Military Recruiters

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The Rochester, N.Y., school board violated state education law last December when it barred military recruiters from its campuses because of the armed forces' ban on homosexuals, a state court has ruled.

State Supreme Court Justice Francis A. Affronti ruled on Feb. 13 that, based on the legislative history and intent of the education law, the unprecedented board action conflicted with the law, which requires school boards to give access to military recruiters "on the same basis" as any other employment or college recruiters.

"The beard of education," Justice Affronti wrote in his 1 l-page decision, "must perform the duties imposed upon it by law and provide the military the same access to school property as other recruiters are afforded for purposes of informing students of 'educational, occupational or career opportunities' regardless of the military's policy concerning homosexuals."

The Rochester school beard's December policy resolution was worded to include any recruiter or employer whose organization has a written policy that discriminates against homosexuals or other groups.

Justice Affronti found that such "preconditions or exclusionary criteria ... [are] without legal justification," adding that the education law "does not permit school beards such far-reaching clout or authority."

The school district plans to appeal the decision to the state appellate court, Donald Schmitt, associate counsel for the school district, said last week.

The filing of an appeal will hold the court's ruling in abeyance pending its outcome, he said.

The board's policy was challenged shortly after it was enacted when Jean M. Lloyd, acting on behalf of her then-minor son David J. Lloyd, now 18, filed suit against the board.

The suit said that Mr. Lloyd, a junior at Edison Technical High School, wanted to know about the military's opportunities by on-campus recruiters "on the same basis as other persons granted access for such purposes."

Under the board's policy, students could still obtain information from school counselors about the armed forces.

The Lloyds' suit has been underwritten by Citizens for a Decent Community, a local advocacy group.

John M. Regan, the Lloyd's lawyer, said he was "pleased" with the decision and was surprised the district was appealing.

"I don't see how any court is going to rule any differently on this," he said.

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