News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Supreme Court Declines To Hear
School Administrator's Complaint
The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to hear the appeal of an assistant principal who claimed he was suspended without pay for three years in retaliation for making complaints about district practices.
Leonard S. Levine, an assistant principal at Hauppage (N.Y.) High School, said in his lawsuit against the 3,500-student Hauppage district that he was disciplined because he was an outspoken critic of the way the district was run. For example, he complained that the district failed to enforce its smoking and drug policies regarding children of school board members and district staff.
The district says in court documents that Mr. Levine was disciplined not for constitutionally protected speech, but for enrolling his daughter in a district school while she lived outside its boundaries, as well as for an incident in which he slapped a student on the back of the head.
Mr. Levine lost in a federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, in New York City, and the Supreme Court declined without comment on Oct. 16 to hear his appeal in Levine v. Hauppage Public Schools (Case No. 00- 264).
Court Finds Agencies in Violation of Law
A federal judge has ruled against the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services in a lawsuit concerning the 2000 national Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The committee is responsible for dietary guidelines that form the basis for all federal food programs, including the school lunch program.
The agencies violated parts of the Freedom of Information Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act in withholding information on 140 experts who were considered for the dietary-guidelines committee but did not serve, U.S. District Judge James Robertson of the federal district court in Washington ruled Sept. 30.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington research and advocacy group, had charged in a lawsuit that at least six of the 11 members of the advisory panel had inappropriate financial ties to the meat, dairy, or egg industry. ("Milk Lawsuit Leaving Some With Bad Taste," Feb. 9, 2000.)
Part of the suit was dismissed by mutual agreement. USDA officials were reviewing the ruling last week, said Mary Beth Schultheis, a spokeswoman for the agency. The USDA had the lead role in operating the panel this year.
—Adrienne D. Coles
Vol. 20, Issue 8, Page 41