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New York City and its school board filed suit against the state last week, claiming that the existing school-aid formula is inequitable and discriminates against minority students.

The suit charges the state with violating the education article of the state constitution, the equal-protection clauses of the state and federal constitutions, and the U.S. Civil Rights Act.

Although the city enrolls 37 percent of the state's pupils in its schools, it receives only 34 percent of the state's education aid, according to the lawsuit.

New York courts have scuttled previous challenges to the finance system, ruling that the state constitution does not guarantee an equal distribution of education resources.

But this new suit seizes on the language of a 1982 court of appeals ruling indicating that it might reconsider if "gross and glaring inadequacy'' were found.

"The scheme of education financing perpetuated by the state creates and reinforces a divided society of wealthy versus impoverished schools,'' the suit asserts.

It also alleges that the state violates the federal civil-rights law because it allocates a smaller share of funds to city schools, which most non-white public school students in the state attend.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Wayne G. Sanstead of North Dakota last week unveiled proposals for eliminating wealth-based disparities among the state's school districts.

Mr. Sanstead issued the proposals to comply with a district judge's ruling last month that the state's school-finance system is unconstitutional.

The superintendent's plan recommends that the state increase its general-fund appropriation for education and that the local share of education funding come from a uniform county property tax of 180 mills, a significant increase for some jurisdictions.

It also calls for districts with fewer than 150 K-12 students to be merged.

In addition, the proposals offer funding reforms in such areas as special education, vocational education, and transportation.

"We believe that the corrective, phased-in proposal we now present responds fully to the judge's decision and his implementation timetable of four years,'' Mr. Sanstead said in a statement accompanying the plan. (See Education Week, Feb. 17, 1993.)

A Connecticut House committee has approved a bill that could restrict students in school districts with high minority populations from attending vocational-agricultural schools in their area.

The measure is designed to prevent white students from enrolling at the magnet schools to avoid attending schools in culturally diverse communities.

In the midst of a statewide debate over desegregation, lawmakers contend that some white students in urban areas have been flocking to the magnet schools.

Students in cities and towns with smaller minority populations would still be permitted to enroll at the vocational-agricultural schools as part of the measure.

The South Dakota House has rejected a bill to allow home-schooled high school students to participate in some public school activities, such as sports and music programs.

The bill, which had narrowly passed the Senate last month, garnered a vote of only 34 to 29 on the House floor, not enough to pass the measure under House rules.

Supporters of the bill maintained that it would give students being taught at home a chance to socialize more with peers and experience a more well-rounded education. But opponents said it was unfair for students who did not attend a school to be able to take the place of an enrolled student on a sports team.

Vol. 12, Issue 26

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