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The California legislature alone--not state judges--can order funds to operate bankrupt school districts, the state supreme court has ruled.

The court, ruling last month on a case that grew out of the state's 1991 efforts to avert a shutdown of the Richmond school district, declared that all California students are entitled to "basic educational equity,'' including a full school year. But, the court continued, only lawmakers can approve emergency funding.

In the Richmond case, state officials provided a $19 million loan by tapping unneeded and unspent educational funds. A superior-court judge had ordered the state to come up with money for the district after legislators could not agree on an emergency finance plan. (See Education Week, May 1, 1991.)

The court's ruling will not directly affect the Richmond district. State officials agreed that, along with new controls passed last year, the ruling should guard against a repeat of such circumstances in other districts.

Pennsylvania public school employees will be given incentives to retire early, under legislation signed last month by Gov. Robert P. Casey.

The legislation provides a 10 percent service credit to workers who are at least 55 years old, have a minimum of 10 years of service, and retire by the end of August.

Governor Casey said the incentive will enable school districts and the state to save money and will open doors to younger teachers "whose career paths have been closed.''

Approximately 30,000 employees are eligible for early retirement.

The Governor also signed a bill prohibiting educational institutions that receive state funding from discriminating against the disabled.

Truant students in Milwaukee could be detained by police, under a proposal made last month by Gov. Tommy G. Thompson and other state and local officials.

The proposal, known as the Truancy Abatement and Burglary Suppression program, or ôáâó, calls for a change in state law to enable police officers to take students who skip school into temporary custody. Under current law, police officers are permitted to detain only students they know to be chronically truant.

Under the new program, however, police officers would turn the students over to designated branches of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, where parents would be able to retrieve them.

Some 140 New York State school districts meet the initial criteria for merging with neighboring districts, under a plan proposed by Commissioner of Education Thomas Sobol.

In recommendations submitted last month to the Board of Regents, Mr. Sobol also requested the authority to order districts to consolidate against their wishes.

In addition, Mr. Sobol urged legislative changes that would sweeten the financial pot for low- and high-wealth districts to merge.

Vol. 12, Issue 16

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