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A 24-year-old teacher has sued the University of Delaware on the grounds that an unfair D grade prevented her from receiving a state teaching certificate until two years after she had graduated.

Christine Paoli of Newark, Del., argues in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court, that her former professor, Anne McCourt-Lewis, was biased against her.

She also alleges that the college failed to inform her of procedures designed to mediate grade disputes and to appeal grade decisions.

Ms. Paoli currently teaches at St. Anthony's School, a private elementary school in Wilmington, Del., that does not require its instructors to have a state teaching certificate. Her suit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages from the university.

Barbara D. Crowell, a lawyer for Ms. McCourt-Lewis and the university, last week denied Ms. Paoli's allegations.

She said Ms. Paoli was given "full due-process procedures.''

According to Ms. Crowell, the former student received two full hearings before panels of both students and faculty members, and was subsequently evaluated by another professor, who also gave her a D.

School budgets in 143 districts were rejected by New Jersey voters this month, but local officials said the budget disputes should be resolved in time to plan for the next academic year.

Frank Belluscio, a spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association, said that 74.1 percent of the 553 school budgets on the ballot were approved by voters, down from 82.4 percent last year. Voters in the state's largest city, Newark, were among those rejecting budgets.

Mr. Belluscio said the large number of rejections may be attributable to a projected $89.4-million shortfall in state aid to local districts. He said the deficit may have forced some districts to raise property taxes to higher-than-normal levels to make up the difference. He added that the shortfall had hit school transportation budgets particularly hard.

Rejected school budgets are referred to municipal governments, which have until April 28 to amend or approve them, the spokesman said. School boards can then appeal any cuts to the state commissioner of education.

"The voters have essentially said, 'We want another group of elected officials to look at the budget,''' Mr. Belluscio said.

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