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A federal appeals court has taken the unusual step of withdrawing a recent opinion in which it had found that the Topeka, Kan., public schools remain unconstitutionally segregated.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, acting on its own motion, withdrew in July its most recent decision in the historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case and vacated its order, according to Robert L. Hoecker, clerk of the court for the 10th Circuit. (See Education Week, June 14, 1989.)

The judges announced no reason for their action, Mr. Hoecker said.

Civil-rights lawyers said the meaning of the move was difficult to interpret. The judges could have been acting to allow a third member of the panel time to prepare an unreleased dissent, or they could be reconsidering their opinion in its entirety, lawyers involved in the case reasoned.

Charges against two Atlanta teachers accused of failing to report cases of suspected child abuse have been dropped.

The solicitor general for the state court of Fulton County last month dismissed charges against Janice Flanagan and Annie Little. Ms. Flanagan had been arrested in May for failing to report suspected abuse in the case of a student who had come to school with a split lip that, the child said, had been caused by her stepmother. Ms. Little was charged with making false statements to police in connection with the incident. (See Education Week, June 21, 1989.)

But similar charges were still pending against another Atlanta teacher, Frances Smith, in a separate case.

Commissioner of Education William N. Kirby of Texas does not have the authority to determine a student's grade for purposes of enforcing the state's "no-pass, no-play" law, a state district judge in Austin has ruled.

Mr. Kirby ruled last year that the principal of Carter High School in Dallas had improperly changed the grade of a star football player to show him passing a course, and thus preserve his eligibility under the law, which requires students to pass all courses in order to participate in extracurricular activities.

Dallas school officials, who maintained that the student's teacher had failed to follow proper grading procedures, filed suit to overturn Mr. Kirby's action.

Joey Lozano, a spokesman for the education department, said the decision by Judge Paul Davis in favor of Dallas would "gut the law" by denying state officials oversight over grades. (See Education Week, May 17, 1989.)

The collapse of bleachers at Maurice J. McDonough High School in Pomfret, Md., last fall could have been prevented, the Charles County school board has conceded in agreeing to accept a state safety citation.

The state occupational-safety office said the school board failed to tell its employees to install guard rails that would have6shown that the telescoping bleachers were not properly aligned.

Eighty-three students were injured in the collapse. (See Education Week, Sept. 21, 1988.)

The Council of Chief State School Officers has taken over implementation of "Joining Forces," a project aimed at fostering collaboration between educators and human-services professionals. (See Education Week, March 15, 1989.)

The project was initiated by the National Association of State Boards of Education, which will continue to work to link the efforts of schools and social agencies in aiding troubled children and families.

But, explained Janet Levy, the project's director, "it seemed appropriate for the sponsorship to come from individuals who actually administer the systems."

The project, also sponsored by the American Public Welfare Association, initially will focus on ways to foster collaboration in providing education services for welfare recipients under the new Family Support Act.

Ms. Levy is now based at the c.c.s.s.o., 379 Hall of the States, 400 North Capitol St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001; (202) 393-8159.

Copies of "Joining Forces: Report From the First Year," can be obtained for $6 each from Lynn Wilson, nasbe, 1012 Cameron St., Alexandria, Va. 22314.

Eight newly elected members of New York City's community school boards have resigned their seats after a federal appeals court reinstated a new state conflict-of-interest law that had been rejected by a lower court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld the constitutionality of the so-called "Serrano law," which bars elected and party officials and employees of the board of education from serving on the city's 32 community school boards. (See Education Week, May 10, 1989.)

Twenty other board members who were in a similar situation chose to retain their seats and apparently have dropped their conflicting posts, according to a district spokesman.

A ninth board member resigned after pleading guilty to charges of using school equipment and supplies to print election materials, the spokesman said.

Under the 1969 decentralization law that created the community boards, the vacancies will be filled by the remaining members of each panel.

Two attempts to block the plans of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit to close 30 parishes have failed.

The Vatican Congregation for the Clergy rejected an appeal by 15 parishes of Cardinal Edmund Szoka's closing order. In addition, a Wayne County Circuit Court judge turned down an attempt by 18 parishes to get a court order to prevent the closings.

Nevertheless, the five schools operated by the affected parishes will open in the fall, according to Jay Berman, a spokesman for the archdiocese. (See Education Week, Jan. 18, 1989.)

Vol. 08, Issue 40

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