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A New York school district's expulsion of four boys whose father--a self-styled "minister of his own personal religion"--refused to have them immunized has been upheld by the state's chief school officer, Gordon M. Ambach.

The Cuba Central School District in western New York barred the four boys from school last Oct. 26, after rejecting their father's claim that the immunization of his sons "contravened his right to privacy and to the exercise of his religion."

In November, the father, Lester Van Druff, took his case to the state's Supreme Court, which ruled that he failed to show he was a member of a bona fide religion and that he had not exhausted his appeals to the state education department.

Meanwhile, the school district took its case to the state's Family Court, which in January ordered the boys immunized and returned to school. The boys are now in school.

Mr. Ambach has said that Mr. Van Druff claimed "his religious belief is that immunization shots and all preventive medicine are not necessary 'as the Lord's will will be done regardless of any shots."'

In a five-page opinion released this month, Mr. Ambach based his ruling on a state appellate-court opinion that rejected an exemption claim by a person whose religion did not prohibit immunization.

Acknowledging that 66 pages of his 121-page doctoral thesis on urban education had been taken from three other sources without attribution, Ronald H. Lewis has withdrawn his name from consideration as commissioner of education in New Jersey.

Mr. Lewis, who is currently a deputy commissioner of education in Pennsylvania, had been chosen re-cently by New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean to head the state's education bureaucracy.

However, Mr. Lewis's name was never formally submitted to the New Jersey legislature for ratification because of news reports suggesting that the doctoral thesis Mr. Lewis submitted to Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1973 was plagiarized in parts.

Jerome Pollack, president of Fairleigh Dickinson, has appointed a four-member committee to review Mr. Lewis's thesis. The degree will be rescinded, Mr. Pollack has said, if plagiarism is found.

Governor Kean was expected to name his new choice for commissioner of education late last week.

Vol. 01, Issue 35

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