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The Kentucky Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the right of the state board of education to dismiss three members of the Harlan County school board under the state's school-reform law.

The court held late last month that the board and Commissioner of Education Thomas C. Boysen had sufficient grounds for dismissing Ronnie G. Ball, Benny Dale Coleman, and David Lewis for alleged misconduct in office. Furthermore, the court held, the state reform law explicitly gives the state board the right to dismiss officials it finds guilty of misconduct.

Last summer, a state circuit-court judge reinstated the trio in their positions after they became the first local board members to be ousted by the state under the law. (See Education Week, June 3, 1992.) The circuit judge said the alleged financial misconduct by Mr. Ball and Mr. Lewis was not willful and that the charges against Mr. Coleman should have been handled by the state attorney general's office.

The state asked for an emergency injunction to keep the three men off the county board pending the supreme court's ruling.

In its ruling, the high court said that Judge Johnson's findings were "clearly erroneous.''

Mr. Boysen plans to fill the remaining two slots on the five-member board with appointees.

"We now look forward to returning control of the Harlan County school system to the locally elected board members, who have expressed strong interest in transforming the schools for the benefit of the county's students,'' Mr. Boysen said.

The three board members have until March 10 to ask the high court to reconsider its decision.

A Philadelphia judge has rejected a lawsuit seeking to expand the number of Mayor's scholarships to the University of Pennsylvania.

Judge Nelson A. Diaz held last week that the plaintiffs who filed the suit--a group of parents, students, and others--do not have legal standing to sue because only the city's Mayor and his officials can enforce city ordinances such as the one in dispute.

The plaintiffs charge that a 1977 city ordinance requires the city and the private university to make available to Philadelphia 125 full-tuition scholarships to the school each year, for a total of 500 at any one time. University and city officials say the statute means a total of 125. (See Education Week, Nov. 25, 1992.)

City and university officials said the judge's decision upholds their position. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the ruling was unclear.

An appeal in the case is expected.

Two Milwaukee teachers who were suspended when a videotape of their classroom behavior appeared on national television in 1991 have been awarded back pay in arbitration hearings.

The teachers, Michael Valadez and William Kemen, were the subject of a student video filmed in May 1991 and later shown on an NBC program called "Expose.'' In the video, filmed at North Division High School, Mr. Kemen read during a class and Mr. Valadez failed to control a class of exceptional students. (See Education Week, Oct. 2, 1991.)

As a result of the broadcast, Mr. Kemen was suspended for the first semester of the 1991-92 school year, and Mr. Valadez was suspended for the entire term.

In their decisions, arbitrators found no justification for the disciplinary actions against the teachers, and ordered the district to grant them back pay. Mr. Kemen will receive $22,700, while the amount owed to Mr. Valadez is still being calculated, a district spokesman said.

Another teacher, Thomas Clark, also suspended for his conduct on the videotape, had his disciplinary action reversed last year and has returned to North Division High.

A federal district judge in New Orleans has denied a request by the state of Louisiana to delay an overhaul of the state's system of governing higher education.

U.S. District Judge Charles Schwartz ruled last month that the state must abide by his order of last December that the state must have in place by late April a "superboard'' to govern all 17 institutions of higher education in the state.

The judge called for the change because he said the current system has led to racially identifiable schools. He based his decision on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case involving desegregation of the higher-education system in Mississippi. (See Education Week, Feb. 3, 1993.)

State Attorney General Richard Ieyoub said that he will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to grant the delay.

Judge Schwartz also refused a U.S. Justice Department request to bolster parts of his December ruling by putting them in writing. The department asked the judge to require the new board to develop a budget to correct spending disparities between predominantly white and predominantly black colleges.

Judge Schwartz said his December ruling already requires the state to better fund the predominantly black institutions.

Vol. 12, Issue 23, Page 3

Published in Print: March 3, 1993, as News Updates
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