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Nine Teachers in Anchorage Challenge 'Agency Shop' Pact

Nine public-school teachers in Anchorage have filed a lawsuit in state superior court challenging the legality of a compulsory "agency shop'' agreement forged last summer during contract negotiations between the school district and the local affiliate of the National Education Association.

A compulsory agency-shop provision requires all employees in a bargaining unit to pay a fee for services the local union performs on their behalf even if they do not belong to the union. Under the Anchorage contract, that fee is equal to union dues, according to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which is representing the teachers in the case.

In their complaint, the teachers assert that the contract provision is illegal because Alaska law does not authorize the establishment of an agency shop. They also argue that the provision violates their right to freedom of expression and association, and their right to due process, guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

In addition, the teachers claim that the agreement establishes an illegal "company union.'' Since the district pays the shop fees and regular dues directly to the union under a provision negotiated in the contract, they charge, the local is "wholly or almost wholly funded by the district'' and thus "cannot fairly represent employees in negotiations with the employer.''

The teachers allege that the union agreed to a reduction in teacher pay in return for the agency-shop provision, and thus received an illegal "commercial bribe.''

Officals for the Anchorage Education Association and the district, both of which are named as defendants in the suit, last week declined to comment because they had not yet seen the complaint.

A Chattanooga, Tenn., honor student suspended for making an obscene gesture in a yearbook photograph has filed a lawsuit charging school officials with violating his constitutional right to due process.

Jeffery Loyd, a senior at Ooltewah High School, was suspended for two days last month when officials noticed the photograph. He was also removed from his position as senior-class secretary and as a candidate for "Mr. Ooltewah High School.''

The suit, filed April 19 in Hamilton County Circuit Court, contends that Mr. Loyd was deprived of his 14th Amendment right to due process because he was not told initially why he was being punished, his parents were not present at his first suspension hearing, and the case was not referred to the school board immediately.

It also claims that the student's removal from his extracurricular positions will cause him irreparable harm.

District officials declined last week to discuss the suit.

After a 10-month trial, a former preschool teacher has been convicted of sexually assaulting 19 children at the now-defunct Wee Care Day Nursery in Maplewood, N.J.

According to Glenn D. Goldberg, an assistant prosecutor for Essex County, Margaret K. Michaels was convicted last month on 115 counts ranging from first-degree aggravated sexual assault to third-degree endangering the welfare of a child. She was acquitted of 16 counts.

Mr. Goldberg said 19 of the children testified on videotape that Ms. Michaels had forced them to perform bizarre sex games in the day-care center classroom.

Ms. Michaels is being held in the Essex County Jail without bail pending sentencing, tentatively set for May 26.

The Broward County (Fla.) Board of Education has rejected a proposal to bar students from wearing sunglasses on school grounds.

Proposed by a committee recommending changes in the student-discipline code, the ban was aimed at controlling student drug use by making it difficult for youths to hide tell-tale bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils.

But board members, arguing that the ban was inappropriate and trivial, omitted it from the final version of the code.

The Cincinnati City Council has banned the sale of guns, ammunition, and legally regulated knives within 1,000 feet of school buildings.

The vote came two days before a retail gun and tackle shop was scheduled to open across the street from Westwood Elementary School. Parents opposed the shop because a Westwood 4th-grader died last month from a gun shot wound he received last fall.

The store's owner has said he may challenge the new ordinance.

Vol. 07, Issue 32

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