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The Hillsboro, Mo., school board has decided to end discussion of the federal Hatch Amendment, which gives parents more control over controversial topics taught in the public schools.

Some parents have contended that Hillsboro officials violated the amendment when they failed to ob-tain prior parental consent for a school-counseling program, the showing of the Walt Disney movie "Never Cry Wolf," a requirement that students keep personal diaries, and a number of other school programs. (See Education Week, Feb. 20, 1985.)

Superintendent Louis W. Chaney noted that the board had been advised by legal counsel that the Hatch Amendment did not apply because the programs at issue were not federally funded.

Hereafter, parents who have complaints will be required to follow "the usual line of command" in seeking a resolution, Mr. Chaney said. That means they must first discuss the matter with the student's teacher, then the principal, and then the superintendent.

Voters in three Little Rock, Ark.-area school districts recently rejected attempts to raise school-millage rates in a move apparently linked to dissatisfaction with a federal judge's desegregation order requiring the consolidation of the districts. (See Education Week, March 13, 1985.)

According to a spokesman for the Little Rock school district, which encompasses most of the city, voters' rejection on March 12 of a proposed 5-mill increase will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the district to meet a 1987 deadline for achieving a variety of school-reform goals mandated by the state legislature in 1983.

Voters in the predominantly white North Little Rock and Pulaski County school districts surrounding Little Rock also rejected school-tax increases. Bobby Lester, superintendent of the Pulaski County district, said after the election that many voters told him they could not support the proposed tax increase because of their uncertainty over the consolidation order. Julia McGehee, the spokesman for the city school distict, noted, however, that voters in all three districts have consistently rejected proposed school-tax increases in recent years.

The West Virginia Attorney General's Office filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit last week after a federal judge ruled that the state's voluntary-school-prayer amendmentel5lwas unconstitutional.

The amendment, approved in November 1984 by 78 percent of the state's voters, allows a period of "voluntary contemplation, meditation, or prayer" in schools. (See Education Week, Nov. 14, 1984.)

But the implementation of the amendment has been stalled because the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia immediately filed for--and ultimately received--a temporary restraining order barring prayer from schools. The order was handed down by Judge Elizabeth Hallanan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Earlier this month, the judge made the order permanent.

The appeal, filed on behalf of the state board of education and State Superintendent Roy Truby, will not be heard in the federal appeals court in Richmond for at least another six months, according to Donald L. Darling, deputy attorney general for West Virginia.

Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas stopped efforts to recall and kill a bill that would extend the state's controversial teacher-testing program by signing it into law before any efforts could be made to threaten it. (See Education Week, March 20, 1985.)

The Governor, who intended to sign the bill on March 15, did so slightly earlier in the day than planned when he heard that Representative N.B. Murphy was spearheading a recall effort, according to a spokesman for the Governor.

The new law extends the testing requirement to cover not only current classroom teachers but all certified personnel, including school administrators and teachers who are on maternity leave or who, for other reasons, have been out of the classroom but wish to return to teaching.

Vol. 04, Issue 27

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