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Massachusetts' highest court has ruled that school districts do not have to provide an alternative education for expelled students regardless of their age.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruling handed down this month stems from the expulsion in 1991 of a 15-year-old boy from the Quincy public schools for carrying a gun.

The boy's parents appealed to the state education department when the local school committee refused to pay $5,000 for home tutoring for the youth.

After being unable to negotiate a compromise with the district, the education department took the district to court, contending that Quincy was violating the compulsory-education law for students younger than 16.

Despite the high court's ruling, state education officials urged local districts to continue providing some form of alternative education to expelled students.

"If we put students out on the street, they become somebody else's problem,'' said Commissioner of Education Robert V. Antonucci.

A bill is pending in the state legislature that would allow principals or headmasters to expel students with felony convictions.

Unlike students expelled for disciplinary violations, convicted felons can receive educational services from the state youth-services department, according to the education department.

North Carolina's state board of education will no longer require its teacher education schools to receive accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

The board last month lifted the NCATE mandate, making it the second to do so in two years.

Ione L. Perry, the director of teacher-education services for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, said the board decided that the responsibility for insuring that institutions maintain rigorous standards should rest with the state rather than a voluntary accrediting body.

She said the board also hoped that institutions would continue to maintain their relationship with NCATE.

Unlike institutions in other states that have complained about the accrediting body, North Carolina's teacher-preparation schools have been successful in meeting the NCATE standards.

Forty-five of the 46 institutions have been evaluated, and only four have been rejected.

Arthur E. Wise, the president of NCATE, called the decision paradoxical given the passage rate.

He attributed the board's action to lobbying by a "small but vocal minority of institutions that resented the requirement from the beginning.''

West Virginia voted in 1991 to rescind the NCATE mandate.

Vol. 12, Issue 35

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