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Education

A Pass on ‘No-Pass, No-Play’

By Tom Mirga — March 05, 1986 2 min read

Washington

The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to become involved in the legal battle in Texas over a state law that bars students from participating in extracurricular activities if they fail any courses.

But despite the Court’s action last week in Stamos v. Spring Branch Independent School District (Case No. 85-1232), the lawsuit’s fate remains unclear.

In a one-sentence order handed down on Feb. 24, the Justices noted that the lawsuit challenging the controversial “no-pass, no-play” rule did not raise any substantial federal issues. It thus left intact the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling last July that upheld the law. (See Education Week, Aug. 22, 1985.)

Failing Grades

The measure, passed by the Texas legislature in 1984 as part of a comprehensive school-reform initiative, bars students who receive a failing grade from participating in extracurricular activities for the next six-week grading period.

Lawyers for the state, which is a defendant in the suit, maintain that “the case is finished,” adding that there are no issues left to be resolved.

State Constitution

But Anthony D. Sheppard, the Houston lawyer who represents the parents who filed the action, contends that the case has thus far been based on interpretations of the state constitution only. He said he will argue that the law violates handicapped and minority students’ due-process and equal-protection rights under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment during a trial before a state circuit-court judge next month.

The Court also took action last week in the following cases:

  • City of Renton v. Playtime Theaters (No. 84-1360). The Justices ruled 7 to 2 that municipal officials have broad authority to prevent movie theaters that feature sexually explicit films from doing business in areas near schools, churches, and residential neighborhoods.

    Writing for the majority, Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist said that Renton, Wash., officials did not violate a theater owner’s First Amendment free-speech rights by passing a zoning ordinance designed to protect schoolchildren and to prevent neighborhood blight.

  • Williams v. School Board of the City of Pittsburgh (No. 85-1025). The Court declined to review a federal appeals court’s ruling that a black contractor was not denied a contract to do business with the Pennsylvania school district because of his race. The contractor argued he was denied due process in violation of the 14th Amendment when a trial judge hearing his case left the bench momentarily without calling a recess.
  • Daniels v. Los Angeles Unified School District (No. 85-1162). The Court also declined to review lower-court rulings that a black teacher was not denied a promotion to assistant principal because of his race. The teacher contended that six white principals submitted unfavorable written references to district officials, although they had assured him privately that they would not do so.

A version of this article appeared in the March 05, 1986 edition of Education Week

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