Update News

October 14, 1987 2 min read

A federal appeals court has upheld a lower-court ruling that the public schools in Richmond, Va., are “unitary,” or legally desegregated.

The Richmond school board, which was realigned as a plaintiff in the case in 1984, had appealed the July 1986 decision in an effort to obtain state funding for the remedial programs needed to counter the lingering effects of racial segregation. (See Education Week, Sept. 10, 1986.)

In its ruling late last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied the request for additional state funding on the grounds that a state’s liability in a desegregation suit ends when a school dis6trict is declared unitary. The appeals court wrote in its opinion that the board had failed to prove that racial isolation in the district was the result of state action.

In addition, the court said that students in Richmond had not been educationally drived, as the board had charged, but that the disparities between student achievement in Richmond and the state as a whole “were caused by the high incidence of poverty in [Richmond] and the ineffective educational philosophy that was followed for some time in the district.”

Thirteen Belgian teachers will be allowed to teach French in Kansas City, Mo., magnet schools, even though federal immigration officials have upheld the denial of their visas.

The district had sought so-called H-1 visas for the teachers, a classification that covers professionals or workers with special skills. But these were denied after immigration officials determined that the district had not proved that the elementary teaching posts required professionals, or that the Belgian teachers met the minimal educational standard of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. (See Education Week, Sept. 16, 1987.)

District officials were notified last week that their appeal of the decision had been denied. But they found another way around the problem, with the help of the Belgian-American Educational Foundation in New Haven, Conn., said Bonnie Sims, personnel officer for the Kansas City magnet schools. The foundation’s sponsorship qualified the teachers for J-1 exchange visas, which0lare good for up to three years.

Seven fundamentalist Christian families in Tennessee have appealed to the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in their fight to have their children excused from reading classes they consider objectionable on religious grounds.

The appeal asks the 15-member court to review a three-judge panel’s August ruling that the families’ First Amendment rights were not violated by a school requirement that their children use a 1983 Holt, Rinehart & Winston reading series. The panel’s ruling in the case, Mozert v. Hawkins County Public Schools, overturned the federal district court’s decision giving the children the right to “opt out” of reading class. (See Education Week, Sept. 9, 1987.)

A version of this article appeared in the October 14, 1987 edition of Education Week as Update News