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A federal district judge has told lawyers for a Nebraska student religious group that it may not meet on high-school grounds until the completion of a trial on the issue.

U.S. District Judge Clarence A. Beam late last month denied a request by members of the group for a preliminary injunction allowing them to meet, pending the outcome of their lawsuit, Mergens v. Westside Community School District.

The students' suit alleges that the school district violated their rights under the Constitution and the federal Equal Access Act of 1984 by refusing to permit their religious group to meet on school grounds. The case is apparently the second in the nation to allege a violation of the federal law, which prohibits public schools that receive federal aid from denying student groups permission to hold meetings in school if other student groups have been granted such permission.

In April, a federal district judge in Texas ruled that a suburban Houston school district violated the law when it prevented two student religious groups from holding meetings in their schools. (See Education Week, May 8, 1985.)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has overturned a 1983 decision by the state's Unemployment Compensation Board of Review that members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers who took part in a 1981 strike were not entitled to unemployment benefits.

The court ruled that the district's decision to rescind a contract that called for teachers to receive a 10-percent pay increase, one of the issues that prompted the 51-day strike, was equivalent to a "lockout," a district official said. (See Education Week, Sept. 14 and Nov. 2, 1981.)

Under state law, employees who have been locked out by management are entitled to unemployment compensation for the days of work they miss.

The court decision, which could cost the schools as much as $18 million, is "likely to be appealed" to the state's Supreme Court by the unemployment-compensation board inction with the schools, the official said.

Gov. George Deukmejian of California has signed into law a bill that will allow child-abuse victims who prosecute their cases to testify through closed-circuit television.

The law, sponsored by Senator Art Torres, was sought by the parents of the alleged victims in the McMartin Preschool case. In that case, now in preliminary hearings, seven teachers at the Virginia McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, Calif., are charged with 208 counts of molestation. (See Education Week, April 11, 1984.)

"We believe it's a very important step to balance the criminal-justice system, especially as it relates to child victims," Senator Torres said.

The law has been criticized as unconstitutional because, critics say, it does not give the accused a fair chance to confront his or her accus-ers. But the state attorney general has ruled that the law is constitutional and that it may be used in the McMartin case, according to Mr. Torres.

Los Angeles school officials have revised their plan to bar racially or sexually imbalanced high-school teams from competing in the school system's "athletic decathlon."

Harry Handler, the school district's superintendent, announced late last month that coaches of the academic teams will now be required to ''make a diligent and reasonable effort" to seek minority and female participation and to schedule practices for their convenience.

City school officials came under fire last month after issuing a directive mandating that coaches field teams representative of their schools' racial and sexual composition. Some school-board officials called the directive an illegal quota, and one coach threatened to take the school district to court to block its implementation. (See Education Week, May 22, 1985.)

Vol. 04, Issue 38

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