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The West Virginia Supreme Court has declined to review a lower-court decision declaring unconstitutional a county school board's dress code for teachers.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Bill Webb, a teacher who was fired by the Mason County Board of Education in December 1988 because he refused to wear a tie and dress pants to school. In his suit against the board, he charged that its dress code was not in effect when he signed his contract.

Mr. Webb signed his contract for the 1988-89 school year before Aug. 29, 1988, the date the school board began requiring male teachers to wear a tie and dress pants. In November of that year, the board changed the requirement to a recommendation.

In an opinion issued last October, County Circuit Court Judge Tod J. Kaufman agreed with Mr. Webb's argument. He further ruled that the county's dress code violated both the state and U.S. Constitutions.

The Mason County Board of Education appealed that decision to the state supreme court, which voted March 8 not to review the case.

Mr. Webb returned to his job, tieless, on March 8, despite the ongoing statewide teachers' strike.

The district currently has no dress code.

Nearly half of all Minnesota schools built before 1940 have major health and safety defects, according to a survey conducted by the state department of education.

Of the state's approximately 1,500 public schools, 572 were built before 1940. Nearly 400 of these schools responded to the survey.

Approximately 45 percent of the older schools reported such health and safety defects as rickety fire escapes, asbestos insulation, kindergarten and 1st-grade classrooms situated above ground level, and classrooms located too close to boiler rooms.

In addition, about one-quarter of the buildings have wooden superstructures and about one-third have open stairwells, the survey found. Both of these features are considered potentially dangerous.

The study, the department's first of school buildings, was presented to the House school-aid subcommittee March 5.

Vol. 09, Issue 26

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