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The results of a high school's student-government election are not a matter of public record, a circuit judge in Virginia has ruled.

Student editors of the Centreville High School newspaper, who sought to publish the vote totals, sued the Fairfax County school board, arguing that the tallies should be made public under the state's freedom-of-information act. They claimed the election results were no different from the scores posted in school basketball or football games.

But the judge ruled this month that the results were protected under an exemption to the statute that shields academic and medical records from public scrutiny.

Thomas J. Cawley, a lawyer for the Fairfax County schools, said last week he was pleased with the decision. "Open election results would discourage students from running for office, which is not what a school is all about," he said.

Concern Over Dropouts: The dropout rate in Michigan high schools jumped from 6 percent to 7.2 percent between 1993 and 1994, a development that has alarmed state officials who have not been able to figure out why.

Nearly one-quarter of the state's 30,000 dropouts during the 1993-94 school year quit school in Detroit, which had a rate four times the state average. The district has launched a program focusing on high school freshmen in hopes of boosting retention.

Robert Schiller, the state schools superintendent, called the statewide increase unacceptable. The news followed similarly disappointing school-accreditation results, in which only 145 of the state's 3,500 public schools ranked high enough to win full state accreditation.

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