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The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last week in a case that will decide what burden of proof alleged victims of employment discrimination must meet to win their suits when courts find "pretextual'' reasons for their demotion or dismissal.

The case of St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks (Case No. 92-602) involves the demotion of a supervisor at a Missouri prison. The central issue--whether an employer's stated reasons for an adverse job action are really a pretext for discrimination--is an element in many job-bias cases involving schools and colleges.

The High Court is expected to rule in the case by early July.

Also last week, the Court refused to reinstate a lawsuit filed by a dyslexic medical student who claimed that Tufts University violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 when it dismissed him following his failure of a multiple-choice test.

In Wynne v. Tufts University School of Medicine (No. 92-1334), the student said although his dyslexia made it difficult for him to complete multiple-choice tests, the medical school refused his request to use an alternate test.

A federal judge has upheld the Bush Administration's decision not to alter 1990 Census data to compensate for the estimated 3 percent of the population that was not counted.

Much federal aid for education and other social services is allocated on the basis of Census figures. A coalition of cities, counties, states, and special-interest groups sued the federal government to force it to adjust the data in their favor.

U.S. District Judge Joseph M. McLaughlin ruled that although the adjusted figures probably were more accurate, the decision not to use them was not arbitrary and capricious and therefore could not be overturned.

Judith Winston will be nominated to be the Education Department's general counsel, the Clinton Administration announced last week.

Ms. Winston was the agency's assistant general counsel from 1980 to 1986. Afterward, she was deputy director for public policy at the Women's Legal Defense Fund and deputy director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Ms. Winston currently is a law professor at American University.

The National Urban Reform Network, a coalition of nine school districts, last week issued a platform for federal education policy that urges greater flexibility in the use of federal money in return for greater accountability for student achievement.

The network suggests that the government should agree to free up to 25 percent of the schools in a district from "contractual obligations and other governmental regulations'' for five years, provided that they meet the goals of the district's restructuring plans, develop an accountability system, and satisfy achievement-outcome standards.

Vol. 12, Issue 31

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