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The federal judge presiding over the Boston school-desegregation case has retracted an oral order saying that white teachers could be transferred out of the city's examination high schools without the protection of a union grievance process. (See Education Week, May 8, 1991.)

U.S. District Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr.'s written order, issued this month, means that the Boston Teachers Union will not appeal the decision, according to union officials.

In his earlier ruling, the judge had said that the Boston school superintendent could move tenured white teachers out of the elite schools to make room for minority teachers without regard to the arbitration procedures normally used by the union in such cases.

The judge's orders came in response to a motion by the plaintiffs to reopen the case because the school system had not met court-ordered hiring guidelines specifying the racial balance the school system must maintain among its teachers. They argued that the number of minority teachers in the examination schools had dropped, rather than increased as required.

A tentative agreement struck between parents and school-district officials in Newburgh, N.Y., calls for shielding from public view a controversial marker memorializing the 1989 deaths of 10 elementary-school children.

The agreement, made informally last month and expected to come up for formal school-board action by June 10, asks that approximately 75 four-foot evergreen trees be planted around a marker erected at East Coldenham Elementary School last year in observance of the deaths of nine children who were killed when tornado-like winds blew down a cafeteria wall, said Robert DiBella, a law clerk for the Westchester County judge overseeing the agreement. (See Education Week, Nov. 22, 1989.)

The name of a 10th child, who was killed in front of the school after the storm by a motorist distracted by the damage, is also inscribed on the 3-by-4 foot black granite marker that sits in front of the school.

Some parents had filed suit objecting to the prominent placement of the marker, which was deemed traumatic to some children.

The planting of trees around the marker would create an "optional viewing" area, Mr. DiBella said.

A federal appeals court has rejected the claim of seven black Fairfax, Va., teachers that they were discriminated against when passed over for merit-pay bonuses during the 1988-89 school year.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a district-court decision last year that the teacher failed to prove the discrimination.

The teachers had argued that the district's merit-pay system violated their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. Each teacher had received an "effective" rating under the system, which prevented them from applying for advancement for at least a year. (See Education Week, Oct. 18, 1989.)

At the same time, they contended, white teachers had received higher ratings that made them eligible for merit pay. The white teachers did not perform as well in the classroom, the plaintiffs argued, but received higher ratings "because of their race and/or personal relationship with the principal," the teachers had argued.

A dozen Georgia teachers who were illegally fired when they failed a now-defunct teacher-assessment test have agreed to settle their suit against the state for $250,000.

The teachers were fired and told they could not teach in the state for at least a year because they had failed the Teacher Performance Assessment Instrument, an on-the\job evaluation. That test was ruled invalid by a court nearly three years ago, and, in February, a state superior-court judge held that the teachers could sue the state for damages.

The judge also held that the state had willfully violated the teachers' rights to due process. (See Education Week, March 6, 1991.)

Lawyers for the teachers had estimated the back pay alone at more than $500,000.

The state asked the Georgia Supreme Court to review that ruling, but agreed to settle with the teachers before the high court could hear arguments.

A local judge in Minneapolis has ruled that parents and officials of the nonprofit corporation that operates a private school for Native American students should be allowed to decide whether the dismissal of three board members should stand.

Ramsey County District Judge Gordon Shumaker ruled this month that a meeting held in October 1990, during which the board members at the Little Red School House were ousted, was invalid because the current board failed to provide proof that all parties interested in the decision were notified that the meeting was taking place. (See Education Week, Nov. 7, 1990.)

The school has had a troubled background of changing leadership and factionalism among supporters of various directors.

Judge Shumaker, however, stayed his decision on who has authority to withdraw funds from the school's bank account until after the school's annual meeting in June, so that parents and others can decide for themselves who should be in charge.

Vol. 10, Issue 30

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