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A Maine school board did not infringe on a lesbian's free-speech rights when it canceled a school program in which she was scheduled to participate, a superior-court judge has ruled, and the school does not have to reschedule the event.

Dale McCormick, president of the Maine Lesbian-Gay Political Alliance, was scheduled to participate, along with several other minority- group representatives, in a faculty-approved "Tolerance Day" program at Madison High School on Jan. 25. (See Education Week, Feb. 6, 1985.)

The event was planned in response to class discussions of the drowning death in Maine last year of a homosexual, who was thrown by several youths into a Bangor river.

But a week before Tolerance Day was to take place, parents and church groups objected to Ms.3McCormick's presence and the school board unanimously voted to cancel the event.

According to Jed Davis, lawyer for the plaintiffs, Judge Donald G. Alexander held that "in bowing to threats from those who wanted to keep students ... from gaining greater perspectives on lifestyles in the outside world," the board acted within its authority.

Mr. Davis, who claims the superior-court ruling would allow school boards "to make curriculum decisions based on the prejudices of people in the community," has filed an appeal.

Gov. James R. Thompson of Illinois has promised a $330-million funding increase for elementary and secondary education for the 1986 fiscal year.

The Governor, who will deliver a special address on education to the legislature on Feb. 27, has indicated in interviews that he will propose the 15-percent increase to boost state spending for public schools to $2.6 billion. (See Education Week, Jan. 16 and Feb. 20, 1985.)

Half of the increased revenue, the Governor said, will come from a 5-percent tax on telephone calls and from continuing as a state tax the federal 8-cent cigarette tax that is due to expire this year. The Governor has not indicated how he would find the $100-million to be supplied by the cigarette tax should the Congress decide to extend the federal levy.

Governor Thompson has yet to specify how he would spend the new dollars, but the amount he proposes exceeds the recommendations of two reform groups already pushing for higher spending. The Illinois State Board of Education has not yet completed its fiscal 1986 budget request.

The John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company has announced the creation of a $1-million endowment to benefit the public middle schools of Boston. Called the Hancock Endowment for Academics, Reon, and Teaching (heart), it is the largest grant donated to a middle-school system in the history of public education, said Superintendent of Schools Robert R. Spillane.

The $100,000 per year in income from the endowment will be targeted to achieve a specific set of goals, which includes improving basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics in the district's 22 middle schools, according to John G. McElwee, chairman and chief executive officer of Hancock.

The funds will also go toward reviving after-school intramural athletics programs. Under the program, students will be required to meet attendance and classroom performance standards in order to participate in intramural athletics.

The endowment will be managed by the Boston Foundation, which has pledged up to $50,000 in start-up funds; grants will be distributed under the Boston Plan for Excellence in the Public Schools. (See Education Week, Jan. 23, 1985.)

Vol. 04, Issue 23

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