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Chicago parents and community groups have a right to sue the city over the use of Chapter 1 funds for disadvantaged children, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled.

The ruling last month revives a 1988 lawsuit alleging that the Chicago school board--with state school board approval--misappropriated such funds over a span of 10 years. Rather than spend the money for instructional purposes, the plaintiffs charged, the school board used it to balance the budget and buy school supplies, and for other purposes for which the funds were not intended.

The lawsuit was filed before the legislature passed the Chicago school-reform act, which gives local school councils in the city wider latitude in spending state funds, but it was later amended to apply to the act.

A state circuit-court judge previously had ruled that the parents have no legal standing to bring the lawsuit; an appeals court reversed that ruling.

"Until now it had been a battle between lawyers,'' Ricardo Meza, a staff lawyer for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, one of the three community groups involved in the suit, said of the high-court decision. "Now we can go in and look at the books of the Chicago board of education and see how they spent the money and challenge it.''

Trustees of Mississippi's eight-campus public-university system have proposed a desegregation plan that would close one historically black university and merge others.

The trustees' plan was presented late last month to U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers Jr., who has heard arguments for and against the plan, but who has not set a timetable for deciding whether or not the plan eliminate racial segregation in the state's higher-education system.

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state had not proved it had rid its higher-education system of the effects of state-mandated racial segregation. The High Court ordered the desegregation case returned to lower federal courts so that the state could present desegregation proposals.

Under the state's proposal, Mississippi Valley State University, a school with a predominantly black student body, would be closed, and its students and faculty transferred to Delta State University, which then would be administered by the state flagship, the University of Mississippi.

Another school with a predominantly black enrollment, Alcorn State University, would become a satellite campus of Mississippi State University. The Mississippi University for Women would merge with the University of Southern Mississippi, and the state's veterinary and dental schools would close.

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