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Gov. Thomas Kean of New Jersey has conditionally vetoed a $40-million bill for asbestos removal in schools on the grounds that the funding provision was unconstitutional and the health standards were too lenient.

The bill sought $10 million a year for four years for removal efforts. In his veto message, Governor Kean recommended that $10 million be appropriated for one year, and that subsequent allocations be reviewed annually.

The Governor further recommended that the bill's provision to use federal Environmental Protection Agency standards in assessing asbestos dangers be replaced by the more stringent standards recommended by his task force on asbestos policy. (See Education Week, Oct. 17, 1984.)

The bill will be sent back to the legislature this month with the Governor's recommendations and is expected to pass, according to a legislative assistant to the Governor.

Gov. Robert Graham of Florida will ask state lawmakers to approve 10 recommendations on child abuse and child care when the legislature meets in a special session at the end of this week.

The Governor had asked the State Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services for a list of recommendations for improving day care following allegations of sexual abuse of children at two day-care centers in the Miami area. (See Education Week, Sept. 5, 1984.) In addition, Governor Graham participated in public hearings in eight cities in Florida at which hundreds of citizens testified.

The Governor will ask the legislature to expand the staff of the state's Child Abuse Registry, to increase the number and salaries of child-abuse and neglect investigators, to mandate that day-care-center workers be fingerprinted and screened, to strengthen licensure requirements, and to appropriate an additional $3.8 million for day care.

The recommendations would cost approximately $10.5 million, according to the Governor's report, "For the Children."

Hennepin County (Minn.) District Judge Charles A. Porter Jr. has dismissed charges against two employees of the Minneapolis Children's Theatre Company and School who were accused of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse.

John Clark Donahue, the founder and former artistic director of the highly-regarded school, pleaded guilty in October to three counts of second-degree criminal conduct involving the sexual abuse of three students at his home. (See Education Week, Oct. 10, 1984.) Mr. Donahue, who has resigned from the school, will serve a one-year sentence and remain on probation for 14 years.

Wayne B. Jennings, director of education, and Scott Creeger, a science teacher, were indicted by a grand jury in September on misdemeanor charges for allegedly violating a law requiring professionals who work with children to report suspected child abuse to law-enforcement or social-service officials.

In dismissing the charges, Judge Porter said the state law under which they were charged was unconstitutionally vague, according to a clerk in the judge's office. But she added that the judge acted with reluctance in dismissing the charges.

The District of Columbia has joined 49 states in allowing the conviction of a child molester solely on the testimony of the victim.

Mayor Marion Barry last month signed into law a bill that will allow a child witness's testimony to be accepted without corroboration in a case alleging sexual assault against the child, according to David Vos, legislative analyst for the District's office of governmental relations.

The measure will be submitted to the Congress when it resumes; if that body does not overturn the act within 60 days, it will become law in the District.

"We don't think there's going to be any trouble," Mr. Vos said.

Last April, Gov. Mario Cuomo signed a bill that, effective Nov. 1, made New York the 48th state to allow conviction based on the victim's testimony. (See Education Week, May 9, 1984.) Only Nebraska con-tinues to require that corroborating evidence be presented.

Eight prize-winning authors of children's books recently appealed to the Peoria (Ill.) Board of Education to restore to school bookshelves three novels by Judy Blume that were banned last month from the school district's libraries. (See Education Week, Nov. 21, 1984.)

Writing on behalf of the Authors League of America, the national society of authors and dramatists, the eight writers argued that the banning of the books Then Again, Maybe I Won't, Deenie, and Blubber teaches children "a poor lesson, one of intolerance, distrust, and contempt'' for rights protected by the First Amendment.

The letter writers included Natalie Babbit, Virginia Hamilton, Madeleine L'Engle, Milton Meltzer, Katherine Paterson, Uri Shulevitz, Elizabeth George Speare, and William Steig.

Peoria school officials said they removed the books from school libraries because their strong language and sexual references made them inappropriate for young children.

Vol. 04, Issue 14

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