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The North Carolina legislature has approved a measure calling for a 50 percent cut in personnel in the state education department.

The legislation, adopted this month, requires the state board of education to design an agency-reorganization plan and submit it for legislative approval by March 1 of next year.

Cutting half of the department's 783 employees is a goal of the bill, but it is not required.

The state board already has met with the education department's division chiefs, local superintendents, and state education groups to begin crafting a plan. (See Education Week, March 8, 1995.)

A Fine for Parents

Superintendents in Mississippi would be allowed to fine parents $250 for failing to show up at a student's disciplinary conference, under a measure the legislature passed this month.

"We feel it's essential to provide a mechanism to get those parents involved in their child's education and to help that school keep the child under control," said Sen. Ronnie Musgrove, who chairs the Senate education committee. "We felt it was necessary to go on the offensive to try to bring this problem under control before it escalated any further."

The measure was approved by a vote of 103 to 18 in the House and 52 to 0 in the Senate and now goes to Gov. Kirk Fordice for his signature.

'Safe Schools' Law

Students in West Virginia who bring a gun, knife, or other deadly weapon to school will be expelled for one year under a "safe schools" measure approved by state lawmakers.

Students who sell illegal drugs on school grounds also will face an automatic one-year expulsion. The law, proposed by Gov. Gaston Caperton and passed this month, also gives school districts the authority to expel students for one year for drug possession.

Schools will work with county and state officials to design alternative settings for students who are expelled.

Congress last year approved a ban on federal Title I funding for school districts that do not have expulsion policies for students who bring guns to school.

Snow Buries Rally

A rally to demand that Minnesota spend more money on public schools was called off this month after a snowfall in St. Paul. Thousands of students, parents, and teachers had been expected to meet in the state capital.

A coalition of education groups organized the ill-fated rally, which would have been the second such demonstration for education funding in five years. The groups have no immediate plans to reschedule it, state officials said.

Educators claim that Gov. Arne Carlson's proposal for financing education over the next two years would not be enough to avoid layoffs and cuts in school programs.

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