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Twelve students have appealed the reversal of an administrative judge's ruling that the implementation of New Jersey's new 23-credit rule for athletic eligibility be postponed until next year.

Last December, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, which represents 431 public and private schools, voted to require student athletes to complete at least 23 credits in the previous semester to be eligible for competition. The requirement had been 15 credits.

When the new rule went into effect in September, 12 students filed a court challenge, claiming that they had not been properly notified of the rule change.

An administrative-law judge agreed and ordered the state association to delay implementation of the rule until 1985.

But Saul Cooperman, state education commissioner, overturned the ruling on the grounds that the judge had misinterpreted a resolution by the state board of education that requires all school districts to have a policy on academic requirements by Sept. 1, 1985.

According to Robert F. Kanaby, executive director of the sports association, school districts can set requirements stricter than the association's but the 23-credit rule is the minimum allowed for interscholastic competition.

The 23-credit rule was adopted, he said, to ensure that a student "is on the road to meeting graduation requirements." At a minimum, he said, students must complete 92 credits to receive a high-school diploma in New Jersey.

The 12 students, Mr. Kanaby said, have appealed Mr. Cooperman's ruling in state superior court.

State Superintendent of Schools Leonard J. DeLayo of New Mexico has authorized the attorney general to ask the state supreme court to review an appeals-court decision permitting a teacher convicted of sexual contact with a minor to have his license renewed.

Geronimo Garcia was convicted of criminal sexual contact with a child under the age of 13 in Bernalillo County in 1979, according to Carolyn Wolf, assistant attorney general. The state board of education has denied Mr. Garcia's request for recertification on the grounds that the conviction was directly related to his employment.

Under the state's 1974 Criminal Defenders Employment Act, which applies to all licensed professions, the licensing board has the power to revoke or deny a license when an individual is convicted of a crime related to his or her profession, Ms. Wolf said.

But last October, in Reese v. Board of Pharmacy, the New Mexico Supreme Court handed down a revised interpretation of the 1974 law that requires the licensing board to recertify individuals if they can prove they have been rehabilitated. Under the ruling, the board can introduce evidence to prove that a licensee has not been rehabilitated.

Earlier this month, the New Mexico court of appeals ruled that Mr. Garcia proved that he had been rehabilitated, and the state board failed to show that Mr. Garcia had not been sufficiently rehabilitated to resume his teaching career, according to Ms. Wolf.

Mr. DeLayo has held that returning Mr. Garcia to the classroom would present a risk to the children. "Mr. DeLayo strongly feels that teachers are different than pharmacists," said Ms. Wolf. "Whereas the public often has their choice of pharmacists, they often do not have their choice of teachers."

Mr. Garcia--who was convicted of sexual relations with his stepdaughter, not with a student--was given three years' probation and received an early discharge in 1981. His lawyer was unavailable for comment.

More than 38,000 of the 41,000 teachers and administrators eligible for Tennessee's career-ladder plan have applied to the program, state officials reported last week.

"We are extremely pleased with the tremendous enthusiasm teachers are showing for the career ladder," said Robert L. McElrath, state commissioner of education. "It is a sign that teachers have accepted the career ladder wholeheartedly and an indication of their commitment to the 'Better Schools' effort."

The career-ladder program, one of the first in the nation, is part of a larger educational reform program adopted by the legislature this year.

State officials attribute the success of the career ladder to educators' "confidence" in the plan and the support it has received from teachers' unions, said Mark Howard, a spokesman for the state department of education.

Under the proposal, teachers have several options for reaching the first level of the five-step ladder, including participation in a 40-hour skills-building course, taking the Tennessee Career Ladder Test, or taking the National Teacher Examinations. More than half of the applicants have applied for the skills-building program, Mr. Howard said.

Completing one option places a teacher on the first step of the career ladder and brings a $1,000 bonus.

Vol. 04, Issue 08

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