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California Judge Orders District To Allow Opting Out of Channel 1

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A California judge last week issued a formal order requiring that students in the East Side Union school district in San Jose be allowed to opt out of watching Channel One, the commercially sponsored television-news program shown in school classrooms.

The order came about two months after Judge Jeremy Fogel of Santa Clara County Superior Court first ruled that he would not ban the show in the East Side district.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig and others had sued the district for showing Channel One, which includes two minutes of advertising each day. (See Education Week, Sept. 16, 1992.)

In his Nov. 23 order, Judge Fogel said parents must be given a chance at the start of each semester to excuse their children from watching Channel One, and that the district must provide an alternative activity for such students.

The judge said he would appoint a monitor to insure compliance with his order, but he decided against appointing an expert to further analyze the impact of Channel One on students.

After Judge Fogel's initial decision was released in September, officials of Whittle Communications, the company that distributes the program nationwide, and the East Side district said they were pleased with the ruling, since students in effect were already allowed to opt out of viewing Channel One.

Lawyers for Whittle and the district later filed briefs with the judge, however, asking him to reconsider most aspects of his decision.

Jim Ritts, the president of network affairs for the Whittle Educational Network, said the judge's order might be appealed.--M.W.

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