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Principals in Massachusetts will be able to suspend students charged with a felony and expel convicted felons from school, under legislation Gov. William F. Weld signed last week.

The law covers crimes committed both on and off of school property.

Before a student can be removed from school, however, the principal must determine that the youth's continued presence in school would be detrimental.

Moreover, students can appeal their suspensions or expulsions to their district's superintendent.

Although no district will have to enroll such students, the law requires that the state education and youth-services departments provide educational opportunities to convicted youths.

Abstinence Bill Vetoed: Outgoing Gov. James Florio of New Jersey last month vetoed a bill that would have required educators to stress abstinence in sex-education classes.

Mr. Florio, who leaves office next week, said the bill encroached on local decisionmaking.

The legislature can attempt to override the conditional veto when it returns for a one-day session this week, or it can make the changes Mr. Florio wants--which would essentially make the bill moot by excising the abstinence mandate.

Suit on Hold: Closing arguments in a school-desegregation lawsuit involving Hartford and its suburbs have been postponed until the trial judge determines how a new state law affects the case.

Superior Court Judge Harry Hammer last month suspended the arguments in Sheff v. O'Neill after questions were raised about whether the state has already addressed the plaintiffs' concerns by passing the desegregation measure.

The plaintiffs charge that the state has failed to provide equal educational opportunities to minority students in Hartford's inner-city schools. The majority of students in the city are black and Hispanic, while most of those in the surrounding suburbs are white.

The state law--passed by the legislature last year as testimony was being heard in the case--requires every region to discuss options for integrating public schools by next fall but does not penalize cities and towns that choose not to participate.

Because the constitutionality of that law has not been challenged, the judge has indicated that the court may not have the authority to interfere in an issue already addressed by other branches of government.

However, the plaintiffs claim that the state law is too weak to end school segregation.

Judge Hammer is expected to rule next month on whether the suit will proceed.

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