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A Texas judge has ordered that school-board elections in the Del Valle school district be postponed until after he decides a lawsuit charging that the district's at-large election system dilutes the voting strength of minorities.

The case is the first to use Texas' Equal Rights Amendment to challenge a school-board election system. (See Education Week, Jan. 31, 1990.)

The plaintiffs charge that the district's minority population is too dispersed to make a system of one-member districts viable. Instead, they ask for the creation of two districts with three representatives each. The board's seventh member would continue to be elected at-large.

School officials said that elections for two of the board's seats that were scheduled to be held in May could be rescheduled for August.

A federal judge has approved new student-assignment plans in a desegregation case involving the Little Rock, Ark., public schools and two surrounding districts. (See Education Week, Jan. 24, 1990.)

Unlike other recent plans adopted by Little Rock, the new plan will not require the wholesale reassignment of students next year. Instead, it relies on magnet schools and other incentives to encourage parents to enroll their children in integrated schools.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Henry Woods said the plan is "practical and promising, [but] by constitutional standards, it is minimal."

The judge also expressed his frustration with the districts' desegregation efforts: "I add this as a word of caution to the districts lest they be tempted to reduce the plan in any way: Desegregation is not an optional add-on program."

The state agency that allocates money for school construction has denied the Los Angeles school board's request for $80 million to build a school on the site of the historic Ambassador Hotel.

School officials requested the money to buy part of the property on Wilshire Boulevard to build a high school for 4,000 students who currently are bused to other neighborhoods. (See Education Week, Sept. 6, 1989.)

The district plans to acquire the property through eminent domain. But developers have also staked claims to the 23-acre plot.

The state allocation board had agreed to set aside $50 million for the district, but this month urged Los Angeles officials to return with a new request within 60 days after negotiating with developers interested in the site.

The real-estate mogul Donald Trump has purchased a portion of the property, and has announced plans for a commercial and residential development.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has revised the charges against Raymond Buckey, the McMartin Preschool employee who will be retried later this month on child-molestation charges.

In January, a jury acquitted Mr. Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, of 52 counts of child molestation and conspiracy. But the jury failed to reach a verdict on 13 counts against Mr. Buckey. (See Education Week, Jan. 24, 1990.)

Mr. Buckey now faces eight counts of molestation, and will go before a new judge and jury in the trial, scheduled to begin March 27. Three former students at the Manhattan Beach, Calif., preschool, who were involved in the eight charges, are expected to testify.

Vol. 09, Issue 26

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