Published Online: May 7, 1997

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Losing effort

Eric Hutchison is an unusual local school board candidate. Not only does the Pennsylvania man want to lose his campaign, but he wants to lose so badly he announced it in the media.

It seems that if Mr. Hutchison wins the May 20 election for the Neshaminy, Pa., school board, he will lose his job as a social worker for the state department of welfare. "My daughter is 18, and I'll have an empty nest," said Mr. Hutchison, who filed for the race in March. "I was looking forward to staying involved with kids."

The problem is that Mr. Hutchison's job is federally funded. And the 1939 Hatch Act prohibits state and federal employees whose positions are paid for with federal money from running in partisan elections.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hutchison found out about the law after his name was on the ballot. Mr. Hutchison has been told by his supervisors that he would be suspended if he wins. If he comes out at the top of the three-candidate field, Mr. Hutchison said, he will resign immediately.

Mr. Hutchison--who registered as a Republican and a Democrat for the race to avoid party politics--plans to run again when he retires in five or so years. "I've got the fever for it," he said. "I was going to school board meetings and saw how exciting it was."

Courtroom shuffle over expulsions

Sometimes, even parents in high places can't save the day. On April 29, a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge upheld a private Christian school's right to expel the son of Democratic state Sen. Benny Ray Bailey and the son of Randy Burchett, a prominent Kentucky architect.

Chet Bailey and John Burchett were seniors at the 160-student, K-12 June Buchanan School in Pippa Passes, Ky., when they were arrested in Decemberthe younger Mr. Bailey charged with driving while intoxicated and possession of drug paraphernalia, while his classmate was charged with public intoxication. Their families sued when the two were blocked from returning to school after the Christmas holiday.

Initially, a circuit court judge ordered that the students be readmitted pending trial. Later, appellate Judge Thomas Emberton dissolved the order, and the students were expelled again. So the families went to the state supreme court. But that court returned the case to Judge Emberton, who again upheld the school's decision.

--ROBERT C. JOHNSTON & JESSICA L. SANDHAM

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