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E.A.I. Nears Agreement With Hartford School District

The Hartford, Conn., school board and Education Alternatives Inc. were near agreement last week on a contract for the private company to manage the district, a board member said.

The two sides had agreed on the basics of a contract but still needed to work out details, said Kathy Evans, the board member heading up negotiations.

The tentative agreement would give E.A.I. control over the district's $171 million budget and $29 million in federal grants, but not $37 million in pension funds. The firm would pay district expenses with its own money, seeking monthly reimbursement, and would shoulder any cost overruns.

A state superior court judge removed one obstacle to the agreement last month, dismissing a lawsuit by the Hartford Federation of Teachers challenging the contract-bidding process.

The Hartford schools opened without E.A.I. management late last month. Ms. Evans said she hopes to let the firm take over as soon as the contract is signed. (See Education Week, Aug. 3, 1994.)

Beleaguered School

Opponents of a private university's management of a public school system in Chelsea, Mass., say they may appeal a recent judge's ruling declaring the arrangement constitutional.

The decision by a state trial court judge came amid escalating tensions between Boston University and members of the Hispanic community over how the university runs the schools. (See Education Week, June 15, 1994.)

Shortly after B.U. took over Chelsea's schools in 1989, groups and individuals representing teachers, teachers' unions, and parents filed two lawsuits alleging the 10-year contract was unconstitutional.

Under state law, the lawsuits argued, only schools under the "exclusive control" of a public entity could receive state education funds. Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Peter M. Lauriat ruled that, because the legislature gave B.U. control of the schools, the university should be considered a public entity.

The judge dismissed all the claims in both suits except one from the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers.

The plaintiffs may go to trial to settle that claim or appeal the entire decision, according to the M.F.T.'s general counsel.

Educators' Suit

A federal judge in California has ruled that a lawsuit filed by a group of minority educators claiming the state's teacher-certification test is discriminatory can proceed as a class action.

The judge's decision indicates that a court ruling in the case could affect an estimated 20,000 African-American, Latino, and Asian educators in California.

The suit, which was filed in 1992, alleges that the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing violates the civil rights of minority teachers who are seeking jobs by requiring them to pass a certification exam that is racially and culturally biased. (See Education Week, Feb. 3, 1993.)

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