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Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to stay a federal judge's order allowing students to enroll in teacher-education courses without first passing the state's pre-professional skills test.

Mr. Mattox filed the motion for a stay and a notice of appeal in United States v. State of Texas on Aug. 29, only two days after U.S. District Court Judge William Wayne Justice approved the preliminary injunction. (See Education Week, Sept. 4, 1985.)

The case was brought by three civil-rights groups and 14 black and Hispanic college students, who alleged that use of the test to determine entrance into teacher-education programs violated students' right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment. A disproportionate number of minority students have failed the exam since it was first given in March 1984.

The state is expecting a quick hearing on the motion for a stay, according to Elan Christopher, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

Natural-gas consumers in New Mexico have received their first rebates as part of a $75-million anti-trust settlement in a suit filed by a state teachers' union.

The New Mexico-National Education Association had filed suit against the Gas Company of New Mexico in 1979, alleging that public schools were spending so much money on artificially high gas bills that they had no funds left to raise teacher salaries, according to Jay Miller, deputy executive director of the union. (See Education Week, Aug. 22, 1984.)

All customers of the gas company between 1976 and 1984 will share in the out-of-court settlement, one of the largest in judicial history. They received the first of two checks last month, with amounts ranging from $200 to $300.

The New Mexico public schools chose to file a separate suit and will not receive rebates from the settlement.

Under the threat of a state lawsuit, a Michigan school board has voted to halt prayers, Bible readings, and other religious observances in local classrooms but indicated that it would investigate whether it could legally incorporate Bible study into its curriculum.

The Allendale Board of Education voted unanimously at its Aug. 26 meeting to bar the activities following an hour of public comment and a closed discussion session.

Philip E. Runkel, the state school superintendent, had ordered the district to stop the religious practices last April, warning that the state would sue Allendale officials if the practices resumed with the start of classes this month. A federal district judge upheld the constitutionality of Mr. Runkel's order last June. (See Education Week, Aug. 21, 1985.)

Mr. Runkel also ordered the Allendale board to halt noontime Bible clubs conducted in the schools by a private Christian ministry. The local board voted in June to obey the order pending the outcome of a federal lawsuit testing the constitutionality of similar Bible clubs in the Tri-County School District in Howard City. That case is expected to go to trial next spring.

Vol. 05, Issue 02, Page 3

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