State Journal: Any rule they wish; Stay and fight

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A dispute over programs for gifted-and-talented students in tana continues to spur debate over the constitutional power of the state board of education.

For several years, the state board has been trying to establish a rule requiring school districts to offer gifted-and-talented programs.

A number of districts have resisted the idea, however, citing its high cost.

Moreover, a legislative committee in charge of overseeing state-agency regulations has argued that the board does not have the legal authority to issue such a rule.

The issue came to a head last month, when the state attorney general formally declared that the board's regulation was invalid.

Although the ruling has the force of law, unless overturned by a court, a hearing before the House Education Committee last month showed that the gifted-and-talented controversy is still alive in the legislature.

Members of the board and such groups as the Montana Education Association argued that, if the board does not have the authority to require gifted-and-talented programs, the legislature should pass a law doing so.

But Representative Dorothy A. Cody said the legislature still should pass her bill repealing the regulations--not least, as a warning to other agencies.

If lawmakers do not act, Representative Cody predicted, "you're going to set a precedent of telling these other state agencies that they can enact any rule they wish."

Paul Brickner, a member of the Ohio state school board, has vowed to stay in office in : defiance of an opinion by the state attorney general that he is ineligible to serve because he also holds a federal job.

Mr. Brickner, an administrative-law judge for the Social Security Administration, had voted with the board to seek the attorney general's opinion.

And, when the attorney general wrote last month that law bars school-board members from holding another "public position of trust or profit," Mr. Brickner initially offered to resign.

He later retracted his offer, however, after some state legislators assured him that his federal job posed no conflict of interest and promised to introduce measures to change the state law.

Mr. Brickner has been a frequent critic of Superintendent of Public Instruction Franklin B. Walter, and a fellow board member, Wayne Shaffer, had cited his weariness of Mr. Brickner's criticism when he proposed last fall to seek a ruling from the attorney general.--hd & ps

Vol. 10, Issue 20

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