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Despite criticism of his role in handling a new contract for Boston's teachers, Acting Mayor Thomas Menino emerged as the leader from a field of eight candidates in the city's nonpartisan preliminary election last week.

Mr. Menino and James Brett, a longtime state representative, will now face each other in the Nov. 2 general election.

Education and governance issues figured prominently in the race. Mr. Menino favors keeping an appointed school committee, while Mr. Brett has called for returning to an elected body.

The Boston Teachers Union has filed a lawsuit challenging an appointment that Mr. Menino made to the school committee, which later rejected a tentative agreement reached with the union. (See Education Week, Sept. 22, 1993.)

Mr. Menino has argued that the agreement was too expensive.

A group of private school accrediting associations that has been working to establish a national recognition mechanism has elected officers and settled on a name--the National Council for Private School Accreditation.

In a meeting this month, Gilbert L. Plubell, the director of the North American office of K-12 education for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was elected the president and chairman of the new organization.

Charles J. O'Malley, the former head of the U.S. Education Department's private-education office, has been named the executive director of the council.

The new organization includes representatives of 10 religious and regional private school associations that provide accreditation, as well as three members not connected with such associations.

The latest "outsider'' to sign on is John Stoops, an official of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. (See Education Week, April 7, 1993.)

The council expects to begin accepting applications in the spring from accreditation programs seeking recognition and approval, Mr. O'Malley said.

The Amherst, Mass., school system has agreed to reconsider ability-grouping practices that local civil-rights activists challenged in court.

The Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee and the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced last week that they had agreed to set up a 14-member committee to examine how the district groups students for instruction.

The agreement is intended to resolve a suit, filed last year by the Amherst branch of the N.A.A.C.P., that alleged the district was violating the civil rights of minority children by placing disproportionately high numbers of them in classes for lower-ability students.

The agreement calls for the panel to address the impact of the grouping system on minority students and consider alternatives. It also mandates discussions about the district's disciplinary practices and their effects on minority students. (See Education Week, Jan. 13, 1993.)

Education Alternatives Inc., a firm that seeks to manage public schools, last week announced that it had shown a year-end profit for the first time.

The Minneapolis-based company reported profits of $1.1 million on revenues of $30.1 million for the fiscal year ending in June.

The company had failed to turn a profit in its previous six years of operation, posting losses of $1.6 million on $2.9 million in revenues for the 1992 fiscal year.

A five-year, $133 million contract to manage nine Baltimore schools, signed last year, is generally credited for the company's recent profitability. That contract--and speculation about upcoming deals--have helped boost the company's stock above $35 per share, up from an original selling price of $4 in 1991.

Company officials have predicted that E.A.I.'s profit on each contract would be thin, but its overall profitability would increase as it takes on more business. (See Education Week, Oct. 14, 1992.)

A federal appeals court has overturned a ruling that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology violated federal antitrust laws by sharing financial-aid information with the eight Ivy League institutions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed a district-court finding that the so-called "Overlap Group'' violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by meeting each spring to set standard financial-aid packages for students admitted to more than one participating institution. (See Education Week, Sept. 9, 1992.)

The appeals court returned the case to the lower court for further proceedings, saying that the district court had not taken into consideration "the procompetitive and social-welfare justifications proffered by M.I.T.''

The eight Ivy League schools--Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University--decided to stop meeting in order to settle the matter. M.I.T. was the only institution to fight the charges, which the Justice Department initiated in 1991.

In a written statement, M.I.T.'s president, Charles M. Vest, called the appellate ruling "a significant step toward the equal opportunity for all students to attend the college of their choice.''

The Overlap Group was founded in 1958 to insure that financially needy applicants admitted to more than one of the nine schools received comparable aid offers, so that students would select a school on the basis of its offerings rather than its cost. M.I.T. had asserted that the existence of the group thus served to increase, rather than limit, consumer choice.

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