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Parents of disabled children in Chicago have gone to court in an effort to force city school officials to restore funds for extended summer programs next year for 10,000 children with serious disabilities.

In a lawsuit filed Oct. 3 in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the parents contend that school officials violated federal and state special-education laws by eliminating the summer programs.

The parents said that their children need the extra help during the summer in order to prevent them from losing the educational progress they have made.

"I am scared," one mother of an educably mentally handicapped teenage boy, said, that "my son will have to start all over again" in September.

The elimination of the $8.5 million that had been set aside for the summer programs was among a number of belt'tightening measures school officials took in order to balance the school system's $2-billion-plus budget. The district has also laid off teachers and closed schools.

A spokesman for Designs for Change, the reform-advocacy group representing the parents, said the cuts this year were part of "a pattern of repeated failure"to provide appropriate summer programs for seriously disabled students.

Utah District Sued for Filing Brief in U.S. Supreme Court Case

A Utah school district that has been sued for allowing student prayers at high-school graduations is facing a new lawsuit, this time for filing a friend-of-the-court brief in a separate case on graduation prayer to be considered this term by the U.S. Supreme Court

The new suit against the Alpine school district contends that it violated the Utah Constitution by expending public funds to file a brief in support of graduation prayer in Lee v. Weisman, a case from Rhode Island that the High Court will hear in November.

The Alpine district was sued in federal court last year by the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union over its practice of allowing students to recite prayers at graduation ceremonies.

The federal judge in the case has indicated that he intends to wait until the Supreme Court rules in the Rhode Island case before deciding the challenge to the Alpine district.

In the new suit, filed recently in state district court in Provo, Brian Barnard, a local lawyer, argues that district's decision to file a brief in the Supreme Court case violated the state constitution's ban against the spending of public money for "any religious worship, exercise, or instruction."

A spokesman for the Alpine district said officials filed the brief in the Rhode Island case as part of its legal strategy to defend itself against the lawsuit it faces from the A.C.L.U.

A high-school biology teacher has sued the Capistrano Unified School District in California for $5 million, charging that a district policy that requires him to teach evolution violates his constitutional rights.

In a lengthy brief filed this month in federal court, John Peloza, a teacher at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, argues that the district discriminated against him by forcing him to abandon his teaching of creationist theories.

In a news conference outside the federal building in Santa Ana, Calif., recently, Mr. Peloza said he believes that the difference between evolution and creationism the biblically based belief that God created the world from nothing in a matter of days-are simply "differences in philosophies."

The Capistrano district's curriculum guidelines, according to a spokesman, require the teaching of evolution as a "valid scientific theory" and conform to the state's science-curriculum framework.

The Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that it cannot resolve a long-running open-meetings dispute between the Kansas City school district and the Kansas City Star Company, which publishes The Kansas City Star newspaper.

Citing the lack of a "concrete factual situation" on which to make a determination, the appellate court on Oct. 1 sent the case back to Jackson County Circuit Judge Preston Dean, said William J. Dittmeier, the district's legal counsel.

Judge Dean ruled last year that the school district was a public governmental body that could not keep its administration records hidden. However, Mr. Dittmeier said last week that the appeals-court ruling would "negate any previous decision by Judge Dean."

"We're back to where we started," Mr. Dittmeier said, adding that the district has not yet decided whether to further appeal the case.

The case goes back several years and centers on disputes between the district and the newspaper over which of the district's documents and meetings the newspaper has access to under Missouri's "sunshine law," Mr. Dittmeier said.

The San Francisco school board has approved a plan to begin the distribution of condoms to students in two high schools by the end of the school year.

Under the new policy, which was adopted last week, latex condoms will be distributed in a high-school based health clinic by the end of the fall semester, and would be distributed in a school without a clinic starting this spring.

The district will use outside contributions to fund the program.

Under the policy, parents will have the right to exclude their children from participation in the program.

The condom-distribution policy was part of a comprehensive health and sex-education program adopted by the board.

Both pilot projects will be evaluated before the district decides whether to expand the program to other schools, said Beverly Bradley, the district's supervisor of health programs.

The Indianapolis Board of School Commissioners has proposed allowing competition among public schools within the district.

The proposal, one of several education initiatives proposed by the board this month, may never be implemented, however, because the district is under federal court order to bus students to achieve racial balance.

U.S. District Judge S. Hugh Dillin, who is overseeing the district's desegregation order, in the past has refused to amend his order, which involves the busing of thousands of students.

Other initiatives proposed by the board this month call for more site-based management and the establishment of new middle schools and precise new school standards.

Mary E. Bush, the school-board's president, said that some of the proposed reforms, would begin with the 1992-93 school year, would require the approval of the state legislature.

Vol. 11, Issue 07, Pages 2-3

Published in Print: October 16, 1991, as District News Roundup
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