State News Roundup

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After a proposal to refuse Virginia state tax exemptions to racially segregated private schools failed to pass the state legislature, the state's governor adopted the proposal in the form of an executive order.

Gov. Charles S. Robb, who supported efforts to distinguish the state's policies toward such schools from those of the Reagan Administration, on April 15 ordered the state tax department to refuse the tax exemptions.

Until the Administration proposed changing federal policy to permit tax-exempt status to segregated schools, Virginia state policies regarding tax exemptions mirrored the policies of the Internal Revenue Service.

Virginia tax officials said the state regulations will have no immediate impact. Because the Administration is prevented by court injunction from granting tax-exempt status to schools that discriminate on the basis of race until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the matter, 11 Virginia schools are currently denied both federal and state tax exemptions.

The Illinois State Board of Education has voted unanimously to appeal a federal judge's ruling that school districts may deny diplomas to handicapped students who fail "minimal-competency" tests.

On a 12-0 vote, the board accepted the recommendation of state Superintendent of Education Donald G. Gill to appeal the decision of U.S. District Judge Robert D. Morgan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago.

The case, Brookhart v. Illinois State Board of Education, stems from the Peoria school board's decision to deny diplomas to 11 special-education students who failed the competency exam in 1980, the first year the tests were required for graduating seniors. (See Education Week, Feb. 24, 1982.)

Mr. Gill, who sided with the students in an administrative order overturned by Judge Morgan, urged the appeal "because I believe it violated fundamental fairness as well as constitutional rights to give a handicapped child insufficient notice that a [competency test] is going to be required for graduation."

"There is little doubt that some children could never master all the information required," the superintendent argued, "but there is also little doubt that given early notice and adequate preparation, including sufficient repetition, most handicapped children could achieve the level of proficiency required to pass the [test]."

Vol. 01, Issue 31

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