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The Indiana Board of Education has voted to proceed with a performance-based accreditation program it had put on hold last month.

The board had suspended the program--which rates schools on the basis of such factors as pupil test scores and attendance and graduation rates--after the education department released a list of 65 schools that failed on initial review to qualify for immediate accreditation. (See Education Week, Oct. 18, 1989).

In the wake of strong public reaction to the list, the board raised questions about the accreditation process and asked for a briefing from department officials.

Although board members indicated at the briefing this month that they may seek regulatory and legislative changes, "they decided they needed to move forward" with the next phase of accreditation, a department spokesman said.

The spokesman said some members recommended withholding in the future the names of schools that fail the initial review until on-site reviews can be conducted to determine if there were "mitigating circumstances."

The department is expected to report back to the board with the results of its on-site reviews early next year.

A multi-state investigation of antitrust violations in the sale of food to schools has uncovered an alleged bid-rigging conspiracy in Kentucky, officials said.

G. Maurice Binder, a former sales manager for Flav-O-Rich Inc. in London, Ky., has pleaded guilty in federal court to helping rig bids in the sale of milk to school systems in the south-central region of the state.

The antitrust violations are part of a larger alleged conspiracy in which milk distributors tried over several years to eliminate competition by agreeing in advance who would submit the low bids for milk contracts with school districts, according to Robert E. Trevey, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. attorney's office in Lexington, Ky.

A plea-bargaining agreement protects Mr. Binder from further prosecution if he cooperates with an ongoing investigation of alleged bid rigging in Kentucky and Tennessee, officials said.

Similar state and federal investigations have led to convictions or civil settlements against milk and bread contractors in Florida and Georgia.

The county "teacher of the year" in Moultrie, Ga., will take her case to the superior court of Colquitt County following the state board of education's decision to uphold her dismissal by the local school board on grounds of "immorality."

And, contending that her civil rights have been violated, Vicki Sherling also plans to file a lawsuit against the school district, according to her lawyer, William Norwood.

A jury acquitted Ms. Sherling last August on charges of helping her husband grow marijuana in their backyard greenhouse. (See Education Week, Sept. 13, 1989.)

At its Nov. 9 meeting, the state board of education voted 4 to 3 to uphold Ms. Sherling's dismissal, concluding that there was sufficient evidence to support the local board's decision, said James Smith, the state board's chairman.

"The four members of the board determined that evidence indicating that marijuana was being kept in the bedroom where she slept was enough grounds to uphold the local board's decision," Mr. Smith explained.

Ms. Sherling intends to defend her right to teach on the basis that she was denied due process, said Mr. Norwood, noting that the "statute which gave the local board the right to fire her on the basis of 'immorality' does not specify what constitutes immorality."

Mr. Norwood also asserted that statements made by members of the local board before their decision indicated that Ms. Sherling's case had been prejudged.

Vol. 09, Issue 12

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