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Chicago Union May Collect Dues From Nonmembers, Court Rules

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Chicago Teachers Union may collect dues from nonmembers in the bargaining unit.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the procedures followed by the teachers' union in collecting and explaining so-called agency fees from teachers who are not union members satisfy the guidelines laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986. In that decision, the High Court permitted public-sector unions to collect dues from nonmembers who benefit from the collective-bargaining process, but prohibited them from applying the dues toward ideological causes.

In 1982, seven Chicago teachers filed suit contesting the fees.

"This victory will help many other unions establish and maintain agency shops," Jacqueline B. Vaughn, the union's president, said in a statement. "That means no more free rides. If you benefit from a union contract, you must share in the costs."

In November, the Supreme Court heard arguments from Michigan college instructors alleging unauthorized use of their fees.

Controversial Building Plan Approved in Atlanta

The Atlanta Board of Education has approved a controversial lease-purchase agreement for school construction, overriding concern from community members who contended that the arrangement would shield building costs from public scrutiny.

Under the agreement, endorsed by the board this month, the district will set up a nonprofit company called School Buildings Inc., which will oversee $50 million in new school-building plans for the district using private investment. To cover its costs, the corporation will lease the developed property back to the district for 20 years, after which time ownership of the property will revert to the district.

Opponents had claimed that the finance technique violates the state constitution because no voter approval is required.

The Florida Supreme Court last spring ruled that such an arrangement was permissible because it did not meet that state's constitional definition of a bond issue and, therefore, did not have to face public scrutiny.

Proponents say the system will make building easier, quicker, and more efficient.

A federal district judge in Missouri has ordered the Special School District in suburban St. Louis to assume control of vocational-education programs in the area, ending a role for the city's public schools.

The issue of which district should manage the metropolitan area's vocational programs stems from court-ordered desegregation efforts under way since the early 1980's, according to Charles E. Burgess, spokesman for the St. Louis schools.

U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh ruled this month that the city's efforts in providing vocational education have not worked well and that "it is time to close the doors on vocational education under the city board and open the doors wider for the Special School District," in St. Louis County.

Approximately 1,700 students are enrolled in vocational-education classes in both districts this year, Mr. Burgess said. The suburban district will take control begining in the 1991-92 school year.

The district may contest the order, Mr. Burgess said, but it will comply with it unless told to do otherwise.

A 17-year-old Troy, Mich., girl has been charged with poisoning her teacher after she allegedly laced his coffee with LSD.

The girl, a senior at Troy Athens High School, pleaded not guilty to the charge and was released on a $50,000 bond. If convicted on the charge, she faces up to five years in prison.

The student is charged with placing the hallucinogenic drug in the coffee of her English teacher, Robert Heffernan, in early December. Mr. Heffernan said he suffered convulsions and halucinations after he drank the spiked coffee.

One week after the incident, the school suspended the girl indefinitely and she was formally charged by the Oakland County prosecutor earlier this month.

It is possible others were involved and may yet be charged, officials said.

A new security partnership with Chicago police has generated more than 4,000 arrests in or near the city's schools in its first four months of operation, officials said last week.

As of the end of December, Chicago police had made 3,944 arrests on school grounds since the inception of the program in September, said Marj Halperin, a spokesman for the district.

Off school grounds, but within 1,000 feet of a school, police made 362 arrests, for a total of 4,306, said Gary Gunter, an official in the district's office of safety and security

"Gang intervention" spurred the largest number of arrests on school grounds--1,066. Arrests for battery numbered 873, while those for weapons totaled about 200 and those for drugs about 120, Ms. Halperin said.

Off campus, disorderly conduct generated 56 arrests, while drug-related arrests to23 and weapons numbered 22.

No figures on past years' arrests are available nor is there information on how many of the arrests were of students.

Nevertheless, Ms. Halperin said, "We feel certain that security has improved."

Under the program, two Chicago police officers protect each high school in the 408,000-student district and a "mobile team" of police patrols school areas, Ms. Halperin said.

The Fulton County Board of Education has given tentative approval to the first anti-bigotry policy in the state of Georgia.

The policy, adopted unanimously by the board this month, prohibits the use of "fighting words," abusive language that might provoke violent resentment, and physical acts that could stir violence and disrupt the process of education. The policy covers racial, ethnic, gender, and religious bigotry.

Students, employees, and vistors who violate the policy face suspension or arrest.

Hal Shields, associate superintendent for planning and human resources for the dis6trict, said the policy had been discussed for two years. Its passage was spurred, however, by a number of incidents, including racial fighting, at Fairburn's Creekside High School last November.

A final, formal vote on the policy will be taken next month.

A Dallas middle school will be converted to the district's second Montessori school after a federal judge this month ordered the change to relieve a 1,000-child waiting list for the preschool program.

U.S. District Judge Barefoot Sanders ordered that Harry Stone Middle School be consolidated with a neighboring middle school in order to accommodate the swell of parents demanding Montessori programs in the Dallas Independent School District.

Judge Sanders's permission for the move was necessary under the district's court-ordered desegregation plan. The enrollment of the new school will be 40 percent white, 40 percent black, and 20 percent Hispanic.

The popular Montessori program is centered on individualized instruction.

Vol. 10, Issue 19

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