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Members of a religious group in Valley Stream, N.Y., are being temporarily excused from state-mandated aids-prevention classes while state education officials debate whether to grant the students a permanent exemption.

The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court in Brooklyn last month reinstated a temporary injunction excusing the 35 Plymouth Brethren students from the aids classes.

In a lawsuit filed last month and in an appeal to Thomas Sobol, the state superintendent, parents of the students claim that the curriculum is morally offensive and violates their religious freedom.

The Plymouth Brethren is a conservative sect, founded in the 19th century, that seeks to minimize secular contact by shunning radio and television and forbidding youngsters from taking part in after-school activities, according to Robert Calica, the group's attorney.

The appellate court overturned a lower court's ruling and granted the temporary injunction to allow time for a decision on the issue, Mr. Calica said.

Hawaii Right to Life is a "community-sponsored activity" entitled to disseminate its anti-abortion materials to schools, the state education department has decided.

But state officials will bar the group from showing a film or two videotapes that an independent panel of physicians has deemed "biased."

Right to Life asked the education department last year to approve the film and the tapes for school use. But a committee appointed by John Lewin, the state's health director, said the materials were "medically inaccurate."

School districts in 10 Mississippi counties could lose vital federal revenues if the U.S. Forest Service agrees to a land swap proposed by the state's National Guard unit.

The districts, located within the boundaries of the 500,000-acre DeSoto National Forest, receive shares from the proceeds of timber sales based on the amount of federal acreage under their jurisdiction.

The Guard wants to take 32,000 acres out of timber production, however, to create an area for practicing tank maneuvers. In exchange, the Guard has offered a 16,000-acre tract in Colorado.

The Forest Service has proposed instead that the Department of Defense, which oversees the Guard, buy more land in Mississippi to exchange for the tract.

Vol. 08, Issue 25

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