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A community school board in New York City has balked at a demand by Schools Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez that it teach tolerance of gay and lesbian households as part of an anti-bias curriculum.

Mr. Fernandez last week told Mary A. Cummins, the president of Community Board 24 in Queens, that he would dispatch staff members to help her district comply with the city board of education's multicultural-education policy, which includes a requirement that schools teach tolerance of families headed by gay and lesbian individuals.

Ms. Cummins, however, told Mr. Fernandez in a letter that she had no intention of including in the curriculum materials that she charged were "aimed at promoting acceptance of sodomy.''

The exchange came after District 24 missed an Oct. 31 deadline and a Nov. 13 extended deadline to comply fully with the policy adopted by the city school board in 1989.

Five of the city's 32 community districts, including District 24, had refused to adopt a multicultural 1st-grade curriculum proposed by city school officials; the other four have since submitted alternative curricula that were found acceptable. (See Education Week, Oct. 21, 1992.)

Minnesota's state board of education has given preliminary approval to a plan to focus on student achievement, rather than enrollment figures, in determining if schools are racially integrated.

The board voted unanimously this month to seek public recommendations on a proposal to end, after 19 years, a state requirement that the minority enrollment of any school be within 15 percentage points of the district average.

Instead, districts would be required to submit results-oriented integration plans that address their specific needs. Suburban districts and those with rapidly growing minority enrollments also would be required, in many cases for the first time, to submit integration plans. (See Education Week, Sept. 30, 1992.)

Kathleen L. Muellerleile, the board's vice president, last week stressed that the proposed changes in state rules are tentative and subject to change based on public comment, which the state board will be soliciting until March.

In response to a request by the Warwick Teachers' Union, the Rhode Island Labor Relations Board has ordered the Warwick school committee to honor the terms of an expired teachers' contract until a subsequent agreement is reached.

The board's Nov. 12 decision stipulates that the 1988-91 agreement must be reinstated within 30 days. In addition, the school committee must make up any losses teachers may have incurred as a result of the longstanding contract dispute.

Henry Tarlian, the superintendent of the Warwick schools, said it could cost the committee $3 million to $4 million to restore the salary, class size, and layoff provisions in the expired contract. He said he expected the committee to appeal the labor board's decision.

The contract dispute between the teachers' union and school officials has twice erupted into a strike since September. In an attempt to settle the disagreement, the state legislature met in a special session last month to consider a 90-day cooling-off period or binding arbritration. (See Education Week, Oct. 28, 1992.)

The legislation was pending in committee last week.

Vol. 12, Issue 12

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