Federal News Roundup

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The Justice Department announced last week that federal prosecutors across the nation have been ordered to take legal action against more than 200 young men who have failed to register for the draft.

According to the department, prosecutions against the men, all of whom were born between 1960 and 1964, could begin this month. Conviction on charges of failure to register for the draft carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.

The Selective Service System recently announced that by the end of March approximately 500,000 out of a possible total of eight million men between the ages of 19 and 22 have failed to register for military conscription. The draft-registration agency said that it has not yet compiled statistics on the rate of compliance with the registration law for men who have turned 18 since the beginning of this year.

Puerto Rico has added its name to the growing list of states and territories that are seeking to intervene in a lawsuit questioning the legality of the Education Department's recent decision to distribute next year's Title I payments to states on the basis of 1970 census data.

Puerto Rico's entry into the legal fray brings to 19 the number of states that have intervened in the lawsuit, Ambach v. Bell.

Eleven of those states, including Puerto Rico, have filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in order force ed to use 1980 census data in allocating approximately $2.4 billion in Title I funds for the education of disadvantaged children. They claim that use of the 12-year-old census data will cause them to lose millions of dollars in Title I aid because the number of disadvantaged children in their states has increased since 1970.

Eight other states, which support ed's decision to use the older census figures in determining next year's Title I allocations, have also intervened in the lawsuit.

The Boston Teachers Union, with the support of the American Federation of Teachers, has asked the Supreme Court to review an appellate court's recent ruling upholding preferential treatment for black teach-ers in layoffs. The petition, filed on June 17, requests that the Court review the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that affirmed teacher layoffs on the basis of race--as ordered by U.S. District Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr.--rather than on the basis of seniority, as prescribed by the teachers' contract.

The action came several weeks after the Boston School Committee voted to lay off 595 public-school teachers for the next school year. Last year, the school committee laid off about 710 teachers, many of whom had 10 years' service.

During a press conference last week to announce the Court petition, Kathleen Kelley, president of the Boston union, said that the decisions of the lower courts were "unfair, unreasonable, and unconstitutional." She said that Massachusetts law prohibits laying off tenured teachers while untenured teachers remain employed.

Albert Shanker, aft president, said the petition will ask whether preferential treatement for the black teachers "violates previous judicial interpretations." If the lower-court ruling stands, he said, it will mean that "people must lose their jobs on the basis of race."

As a result of Judge Garrity's desegregation order, Ms. Kelley said, innocent teachers are being made to pay for past discriminatory practices with the loss of their careers.

Ms. Kelley said the "human impact" has been substantial. A survey conducted by the union showed that about 17 percent of the teachers who were laid off have begun new careers, while the rest are unemployed or working part time, she said.

As President Reagan has proceeded to replace members of Education Department advisory panels with his own appointees--a practice that was not followed by several previous Presidents--few of those whose terms on the panels were ended early have protested, at least until now.

Earlier this month, A. Craig Phillips, whose four-year appointment to the Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Education was terminated two years before the appointment expired, wrote to the President expressing his displeasure at being asked to resign from the panel.

Mr. Phillips--who serves as the chief state school officer in North Carolina--did not stop at expressing his unhappiness at being dropped from the panel that advises the Reagan Administration on how its policies are perceived by state and local governments, however. He simply refused to resign.

Suggesting that the President's action may be illegal, Mr. Phillips said he would remain on the council "until your office can provide to me clear evidence of the appropriate authority for termination."

Vol. 01, Issue 39

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