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The Minnesota Board of Education has rejected a plan to allow operation of a "charter'' school in the town of Rapidan after state officials expressed concerns that the proposal was simply an attempt to prevent a small school from being closed.

The board voted 6 to 2 to kill the proposal. It was the first time the board had disapproved a proposal for one of the new breed of schools authorized last year by the state legislature. The new schools are to be given wide latitude in setting curriculum and hiring and firing staff, and will be free of many state regulations.

In December, the Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial School Board voted to close Rapidan Elementary School at the end of this school year because of declining enrollment and a budget shortfall. A group in Rapidan then proposed the school become a "country'' school teaching agribusiness to about 70 students in grades K-6.

The Lake Crystal board refused to sponsor the school, but the application was submitted by the nearby Truman district.

Commissioner of Education Gene Mammenga had recommended that the state board reject the proposal, citing the lack of local support for it.

The board previously approved schools in Winona and Toivola-Meadowlands. Under the law, up to eight charters may be granted.

A federal appeals court will not reconsider its ruling that a University of Maryland scholarship program for black students is unconstitutional.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., voted 10 to 2 to uphold its reversal of a lower-court ruling. The reversal was made by a three-judge panel, and the university asked that it be reviewed by all 13 members of the appellate court. One judge did not vote on the matter.

The three-member panel said the scholarships would be legal only if the university proved that they remedy existing discrimination at the school.

Earlier, a federal district judge in Baltimore ruled that the university's Banneker Scholarships were legal after a Hispanic student, Daniel Podberesky, challenged the program as an unconstitutional set aside for black students.

Vol. 11, Issue 32

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