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In a precedent-setting decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that school committees must bargain with employees' unions before they lay off workers.

The state court's decision upheld the findings of the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission that the Newton, Mass., school committee violated the state's collective-bargaining law when it laid off seven custodial workers in 1976 without first consulting with union officials.

In its decision, the court ruled that the school committee's decision to lay off the workers should have been a "mandatory subject in bargaining," according to Stevens M. Day, a state labor-relations examiner.

"The court has set a precedent on what is a mandatory subject [for negotiations] in the public sector," Mr. Day said.

The Republican leadership of the Kansas legislature last week offered a compromise on taxation and education spending after Gov. John Carlin vetoed a school-funding bill for the fiscal year 1984.

Governor Carlin, a Democrat, rejected the measure on the grounds that it did not provide enough state aid to school districts, that it set unrealistically low limits on districts' budget increases, and that it would hamper Kansas schools' ability to pay competitive salaries to teachers. According to the state chapter of the National Education Association, Kansas ranks 37th among the states in average teachers' salaries. The Governor also sought substantial changes in state tax laws in order to raise additional revenue.

In their response to the veto, legislative leaders agreed to increase taxes on liquor and tobacco and to reduce the amount of federal tax that can be deducted on state income-tax returns; together, the two measures would raise an estimated $66.7 million next year.

But the lawmakers rejected the Governor's plans to reduce the depreciation allowance for business and to repeal last year's law exempting used farm machinery from taxes.

In addition, the two sides were in disagreement over a proposed severance tax on minerals.

The gop plan left the Governor and the legislature about $20 million apart on state aid to local school districts. At midweek, observers predicted that the deadlock would not be resolved before Friday's adjournment of the regular session and would have to be revived in a "veto session" later this month.

The Florida chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has announced that it will challenge in federal court the state's 3-year-old teacher-certification test on the grounds that it is culturally biased.

Last October, 35 percent of the blacks who took the state's basic-skills test for teachers passed all four parts of it, compared with a 90-percent rate of passing for whites.

A similar disparity in the scores of the two racial groups has existed since the test was first administered in November 1980.

Florida's Education Standards Commission and Ralph D. Turlington, the state's commissioner of education, have recommended that the passing scores on the tests be raised, on the grounds that the examinations are too easy.

The Alabama chapter of the naacp has a suit pending in federal court seeking to bar the use of the test as a requirement for certification in that state.

The Massachusetts Appeals Court has upheld the suspension of a Boston teacher who was indicted in 1981 and eventually convicted on drug charges.

The appeals-court panel ruled that the Boston School Committee acted properly when it suspended Robert L. Dupree, a junior-high-school teacher, for misconduct.

In its decision, the court found that Mr. Dupree's indictment on "drug felony" charges amounted to misconduct in his employment, even though the charges stemmed from activities outside of school, according to Mary Jo Hollender, first assistant general counsel for the school system.

The three-judge panel ruled that "teachers hold a position of special trust that is different from other types of public employees" and therefore can be held to higher standards than other employees, according to Ms. Hollender.

The court's ruling also clears the way for the suspension of a second teacher indicted for possession of and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Vol. 02, Issue 29

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