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Gov. James R. Thompson of Illinois has vowed to block any attempts to impose local school-district consolidations without voters' consent. (See Education Week, May 22, 1985.)

School-reform legislation approved by the legislature last June calls for voluntary unification of districts, subject to approval by voters in each local district in April 1987. The law, which recommends minimum district enrollments of 1,500 students, also authorizes studies in each of the state's 59 education regions to devise plans for merging districts.

In a letter to State Superintendent of Education Ted Sanders, who has strongly advocated district consolidations, Governor Thompson cited ''growing citizen concern" over the issue and promised to veto any amendment to the school-reform law that "either alters the citizens' right to decide on this local issue, requires mandatory consolidation, or specifies a minimum inflexible number of students in a district."

Mr. Sanders, a leading advocate of school consolidation, replied that he and the Governor "continue to be in basic agreement" on this issue. He said the Governor's letter would serve to clarify the voluntary intent of the law.

An Indiana school board has appealed a ruling by a special-education hearing examiner that it must permit Ryan White, a 14-year-old hemophiliac suffering from aquired immune deficiency syndrome, to attend classes. (See Education Week, Aug. 21, 1985, and Dec. 4, 1985.)

The boy will continue to be educated at home by means of a telephone hook-up to Western Middle School near Kokomo, Ind., until the state board of special-education appeals review hears the case early next month, according to David Day, a lawyer for the school board.

The examiner ruled that under P.L. 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, the school must educate children in the least restrictive environment, according to Mr. Day. The school board voted unanimously late last month to appeal that ruling.

Meanwhile, Ryan is scheduled to travel to Rome early next month as a guest of Italian state television, according to his mother. He will discuss his struggle with aids and his efforts to return to school on a television newsmagazine program.

Louisiana's attorney general plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn lower-court rulings that struck down the state's "creation-science" statute.

The latest victory for opponents of the statute came last month, when the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit voted 8 to 7 not to review last summer's ruling by a three-judge panel of the court in Aguillard v. Treen. In their decision, the three judges held that the law's intended effect was "to discredit evolution by counterbalancing its teaching at every turn with the teaching of creationism, a religious belief." (See Education Week, Aug. 21, 1985.)

The controversial 1981 law mandated that Louisiana's science teachers give balanced treatment to the theories of evolution and divine creation. In the 1968 case, Epperson v. Arkansas, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a state law that prohibited the teaching of Darwinian theory, holding that the religiously motivated inclusion or exclusion of any topic from a public school's curriculum violates the First Amendment.

Vol. 05, Issue 18

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