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The expulsion of a handicapped middle-school student in Woodbridge, Va., who admitted selling drugs on campus was impermissible under the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, a federal judge ruled this month.

"Although 14 in chronological years, [the boy] is operating at the level of a 5- or 6-year-old," U.S. District Judge Albert Bryan Jr. wrote in his opinion. The boy's handicap made him "a ready 'stooge,"' the judge said, "to be set up by peers engaged in drug trafficking."

Under the school district's discipline policy, students who are caught selling or purchasing drugs are to be expelled from school. Members of the Prince William County School Board had voted to expel the boy because they said they did not believe his action was related to his disability, a spokesman for the district said.

But in his ruling Judge Bryan disagreed, stating that "a direct result of Jerry's learning disability is a loss of self-image, an awareness of lack of peer approval. ... Under these circumstances, he leaps at a chance for peer approval."

Under federal law, any change in placement for handicapped students must be "reasonably calculated," Judge Bryan said, ruling that the Prince William County School Board failed to take the boy's handicap into account when it expelled him.

In order to settle a contract dispute that caused teachers to strike in Gary, Ind., this month, the Indiana Federation of Teachers was considering binding arbitration last week, according to Ralph Myers, a field-service coordinator for the ift

The teachers have requested a 9.7-percent raise in pay, and the school board has offered a 4-percent increase. A recommendation from the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board that the teachers and the school board compromise with a 6.5-percent increase has been rejected by both the ift and school officials.

The strike, which closed the 29,000-student school system's 42 schools, is not expected to end soon, said Mr. Myers, who characterized negotiations last week as "unproductive" and added that binding arbitration may be necessary to settle the dispute.

Although the state's collective-bargaining law does not allow public-school teachers to strike, the teachers voted 552 to 519 to do so after more than two months of negotiation on the pay issue, Mr. Myer said.

More than 100 public, private, and parochial high schools in New York City took some time away from the classroom last week to participate in a civics project.

The schools, under the sponsorship of several youth organizations, took part in what officials describe as the largest voting-registration campaign in the city's history.

The school that registered the largest percentage of eligible voters was rewarded with a party sponsored by a local radio station. But project officials emphasized the long-term gain for the students.

"Young people do not vote, because there is no comprehensive program which incorporates the concerns and fears of first-time voters," said Charles King, director of the Foundation for Youth Involvement. "Youths are shut out of the political process not because they do not care, but because they do not know how to participate."

The foundation, based in New York City, was created by high-school students in 1978 to promote and support youth involvement and awareness in public policy.

Vol. 03, Issue 26

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