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The Rhode Island Senate has passed a bill requiring mediation to end lengthy teacher-contract fights.

The measure would also allow negotiating parties to appeal to the courts for a resolution.

The bill was drafted in reaction to a contract dispute in Warwick that twice erupted into teachers' strikes last year.

The bill's primary author, Sen. Joseph J. McGair of Warwick, proposed that various deadlines be met during contract talks or a court could intervene by enforcing one of the contract offers being considered by the union and school committee.

Although the bill had broad support in the Senate, the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, which represents about 6,500 of the state's teachers, has opposed the measure.

While it does not oppose the thrust of the bill, the Rhode Island Association of School Committees would prefer to see a statewide teachers' contract, said Tim Duffy, the executive director of the association.

Gov. Guy Hunt of Alabama has been removed from office following his conviction on one count of violating state ethics law by using his position for personal gain.

A Montgomery County jury last month found Mr. Hunt, a Republican, guilty of diverting $200,000 in campaign monies for his personal use.

Lieut. Gov. James E. Folsom Jr., a Democrat, was sworn in the same day as Governor.

As Governor, Mr. Hunt proposed comprehensive education-reform in 1991 that included greater school-based decisionmaking and intradistrict school choice. He also appointed a task force that presented a subsequent incarnation of school reform last year, but coalition support crumbled and the $423 million education and tax package died. (See Education Week, May 27, 1992.)

A new Idaho law calling for the creation of two separate councils to oversee education in the state is unconstitutional, according to an opinion issued by State Attorney General Larry EchoHawk.

The new law, scheduled to take effect July 1, establishes separate boards for higher education and for K-12 education in place of the state's existing board of education, which is responsible for both areas.

According to the attorney general's ruling, however, the state constitution requires that "the education affairs be governed by a single board of education.''

The California Senate Education Committee has approved a bill to divide the Los Angeles school district into at least seven independent systems.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. David A. Roberti, passed the committee on a 7-to-4 vote last month despite the opposition of minority groups and Los Angeles school officials.

If approved by the legislature, final approval would be determined by voters in the school district in the November 1994 election. (See Education Week, Feb. 17, 1993.)

Vol. 12, Issue 32

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