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Reversing an earlier position, the U.S. Labor Department has accepted an appeal by six states that will temporarily allow them to continue using student school-bus drivers.

In August, the department ordered the states--Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wyoming--to have all buses driven by adults by Jan. 1 of this year. (See Education Week, Sept. 1, 1987.)

But last month, department officials postponed implementation of the orderl the end of the states' school year or Aug. 31, whichever comes first. However, the states may not hire any new student drivers, and all 17-year-olds now driving must be properly trained and have been hired by Aug. 1, 1987.

State officials had complained that replacing the student drivers would be difficult. In South Carolina, where 43 percent of all school-bus drivers are under the age of 18, officials said last week they would not have been able to find enough midyear replacements if the appeal had been denied.

The Vermont Board of Education has agreed to revoke the teaching certification of George A. Sleeman, former superintendent of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, for his alleged role in a scheme to pay instructors and grant credits toward certification for continuing-education courses that did not exist. (See Education Week, Nov. 11, 1987.)

Meanwhile, Stephen S. Kaagan, Vermont's commissioner of education, has asked the board to suspend the certification of a high-school guidance counselor and to decertify a vocational-guidance coordinator and a former assistant principal for their alleged participation in the "ghost class" scheme. Seven educators have already lost their licenses to teach as a result of the state's probe of the scandal.

A federal judge in New Orleans has denied motions by the U.S. Education Department, the Louisiana Education Department, and parents of parochial-school students to dismiss a class action that seeks to end government aid to church schools.

U.S. District Judge Frederick Heebe ruled that the suit, Helms v. Clausen, filed in 1985 by Americans United for Separation of Church and State on behalf of four Jefferson Parish parents, could continue. But he dropped the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans from the suit, saying it was not necessary for the church to defend the aid programs.

The suit challenges the legality of using federal Chapter 2 block-grant funds for religious-school students. It also charges that a number of Louisiana laws unconstitutionally provide aid to parochial schools. Altogether, the state-supported programs and Chapter 2 provide more than $17 million to parochial schools, the plaintiffs claim.

Vol. 07, Issue 15 & 16

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