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A group of black parents opposed to mandatory busing has filed papers in federal court seeking to intervene in the Dekalb County, Ga., desegregation lawsuit and asking to be allowed to propose alternative remedies.

The school district was told last October by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit that it may be required to institute mandatory busing to satisfy its constitutional obligation to dismantle a segregated school system. (See Education Week, Oct. 25, 1989.)

Last month, the school system appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The community is currently embroiled in a debate over what desegregation methods to use in the event the High Court denies the appeal.

The district has proposed opening eight new magnet schools next fall, but the original black plaintiffs in the suit have indicated that voluntary integration measures may not be sufficient to desegregate the system.

The 18 black parents seeking to intervene in the suit charge that their interests are not being represented by the lawyer for the original plaintiffs, because he is more concerned with racial mixing and student transportation than with improving the quality of the district's schools.

The Detroit school district has dropped a merit-pay proposal for principals in schools that join the Detroit Compact, a partnership between schools and the business community.

The decision is expected to clear the way for schools to join the reform effort, which began last fall.

The Organization of School Administra6tors and Supervisors, the city's principals' union, had advised its members against volunteering for the project because some of its provisions could violate their contract. (See Education Week, March 7, 1990.)

John W. Porter, the district's general superintendent, had proposed giving 25 percent pay raises to principals of schools that volunteered for increased school-based management under the plan. In return, he requested the authority to remove principals if their schools failed to meet specified goals within three years.

Mr. Porter said he would continue to seek merit pay and new evaluation procedures for principals in schools outside the compact.

The Floyd County, Ky., school district has asked the state board of education to scale down the oversight and management of the district that the board implemented last year under the state's academic-bankruptcy law.

The board is scheduled to consider the request at its regular meeting in May.

Last year, districts in Floyd and Whitley counties were placed in "phase three" of the academic-bankruptcy plan when they failed to meet academic-progress targets and were in financial trouble. (See Education Week, Jan. 18, 1989.)

The law establishes four phases of assistance and intervention, and Floyd County has asked to be moved back to "phase two." In the second phase, districts are not considered to be under state control, but are recognized as troubled and receive technical assistance.

Floyd County officials contend they have taken steps--including the adoption of new school-board policies, administrative procedures, and curriculum guidelines--to correct their problems, and that their status should be downgraded.

A circuit court ruled late last year that the Whitley County school district should be moved back to "phase two" because the district had not been given enough technical assistance before the state intervened.

The state board is still considering whether to appeal that ruling, according to an education-department spokesman.

Delaying that decision is the current reform bill being considered by the legislature that would basically gut the academic-deficiency law in favor of a new system of rewards and sanctions for districts based on performance.

Graduates of nonpublic high schools in Louisiana will not be required to take an exit examination like their counterparts in public schools, the state board of elementary and secondary education has decided.

Nonpublic schools will be allowed to issue their own diplomas, but may not issue "state" diplomas unless they administer the state exit test.

The board unanimously approved the policy last month, following nearly a year of controversy over the test. The board voted last year to require the test for nonpublic schools that accept free textbooks and other forms of state aid. (See Education Week, May 3, 1989.)

Under lobbying from the state's Roman Catholic and other private schools, however, the legislature passed measures to nullify the board's requirement. After Gov. Buddy Roemer vetoed the bills, a compromise was struck that delayed the test for nonpublic-school students for one year. The board's action supersedes that compromise.

Some state-board members have indicated that they will continue to study some form of exit test for nonpublic-school students.

Vol. 09, Issue 27

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