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The U.S. Justice Department has proposed remedies in an ongoing case addressing segregation in Mississippi's higher-education institutions that would prevent any historically black college from being closed.

The department last month called for all of the state's public universities to remain open and for the state's medical school to be relocated at historically black Jackson State University, a move likely to attract white students.

The Justice Department proposal strongly criticized the state university governing board's plan to close two of the state's three historically black universities and to merge them with predominantly white schools.

Nat Douglas, the chief of the Justice Department's education-litigation section, said last week that the eventual resolution of the Mississippi case could set precedents that would affect similar cases in other states, including Louisiana and Alabama.

Supporters of several historically black colleges involved in desegregation cases have advanced similar proposals to attract white students by moving high-profile programs to the schools.

Student-Aid Cutoff: The Department of Education has cut off the flow of federal student-aid funds to a Philadelphia-based chain of proprietary schools that is suspected of fraud.

In a letter dated Jan. 5, the department notified the Philadelphia Training Center Corporation that it was immediately suspending the schools' seven campuses from participation in the Title IV federal student-aid programs.

In the letter, Ronald D. Lipton, the director of the compliance and enforcement division of the department's student-financial-assistance office, charged that the P.T.C. schools were "poised on the brink of precipitous closure.'' He noted that P.T.C.'s liabilities outweighed its assets by slightly more than 2 to 1 as of Dec. 31, 1992, and that its liabilities currently include some $2.7 million in unpaid federal and state taxes and tax penalties.

Among other allegations, the department contended that the corporation's owners, Richard and Rimona Friedberg, had continued to draw six-figure salaries, as had their children and other relatives.

In fiscal 1993, the Education Department issued 29 emergency actions cutting off aid to 60 institutions where federal funds were deemed to be in jeopardy, according to a department spokeswoman. The figure includes one incident involving a chain of 28 proprietary schools.

Educational Diplomacy: U.S. Education Department officials will meet with some of their Mexican counterparts next month to discuss coordinating the two countries' education programs.

The Feb. 19 meeting in Los Angeles will focus on curriculum reform, teacher exchanges, and professional development, said Eugene E. Garcia, the director of the office of bilingual education and minority-languages affairs.

The meeting, which Mr. Garcia announced at a recent forum on the educational implications of the recently enacted North American Free Trade Agreement, will "add muscle and sinew to the bones of existing collaboration'' between the two countries' education agencies.

That collaboration began with a cooperative agreement signed in March 1990 by then-Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos and was expanded the next year at a two-day "border conference.''

Vol. 13, Issue 18

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