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The Kentucky Court of Appeals has upheld a lower-court ruling that dismissed charges of "educational malpractice" against a private school.

The lawsuit was brought in 1988 by Arnold Rich, on behalf of his son John, who has attention-deficit disorder--a learning disability characteritzed by an inability to concentrate. The youth attended the Kentucky Country Day School of Louisville from 1978 to 1987.

The school would not admit the youth for the 10th grade, however, because of poor grades. The Riches charged that the school did not diagnose John's disorder and provide him with an appropriate education.

Last April, a circuit-court judge ruled in favor of the school, saying that there is "no standard of care" for measuring an educator's conduct. (See Education Week, April 19, 1989.)

The appeals court last week upheld that decision.

"The fact parents may pay tuition either privately or through taxes gives them no right to dictate to the educational system under threat of an action at law," the court said.

Four years after it first began to inspect test booklets for improper erasures, the California Department of Education has announced that it now 6finds no evidence of tampering on the California Assessment Program tests.

In 1986, department officials said, the state found 41 cases of suspicious erasures, out of 11,400 situations in which tests are administered. The number of cases declined to 16 in 1987, to 11 in 1988, and to zero in 1989, officials said.

The allegations of tampering became a heated issue in Los Angeles in 1988, when teachers'-union officials there charged that district officials had blamed teachers for the incidents, and refused to administer standardized tests. District officials later denied accusing teachers of tampering with the tests and agreed to institute security measures. (See Education Week, Nov. 2, 1988.)

State officials attributed the decline in tampering to new test-security procedures, which require booklets to be distributed to schools and returned to district offices in sealed envelopes, as well as to publicity surrounding the previous incidents of tampering. Although several teachers and principals had been fired as a result of the incidents, they said, the practice of inspecting the booklets was aimed at deterring others from tampering with the tests.

"We let schools know that we would carefully examine all test booklets for suspicious erasures and answer changes, and that we would eliminate scores for any school found to have marking or test-administration irregularities," said Bill Honig, the superintendent of public instruction. "We have had excellent cooperation, and the numbers tell the story."

An analysis of recent principal selections in Chicago has revealed no systematic pattern of discrimination by local school councils in cases where the majority of board members were of a different race than the principal.

The study was conducted, in part, to counter charges that race was a factor in the decisions of the school councils, which were exercising their powers to hire and fire principals for the first time under the district's landmark reform measure. (See Education Week, March 14, 1990.)

Eighty-nine percent of permanent principals of all races who were up for review this year have been offered new contracts, according to the analysis. The survey--conducted by Designs for Change, a local research and advocacy group--also revealed that only 68 percent of the interim principals were retained.

White and black principals were far more likely to be retained than were Hispanic principals, the study found. Its authors attributed the disparity largely to the fact that 81 percent of the Hispanic principals who were up for review this year were interim principals.

When retirements are included in the calculations, the study revealed, the turnover rate for principals in the district has been roughly 30 percent since June 1988, when the reform law abolishing lifetime tenure for principals was enacted.

Vol. 09, Issue 29

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