State News Roundup

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In a ruling that would allow Virginia Military Institute to retain its all-male status, a federal judge has approved a plan to create a separate military-leadership program for women at a nearby private women's college.

U.S. District Judge Jackson L. Kiser of Roanoke, Va., rejected arguments from the U.S. Justice Department that the separate program slated for Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., does not go far enough to provide women with equal educational opportunities.

The Justice Department sued the all-male school in 1990, arguing that the state military institution's tradition of serving only men violated the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has ruled that Virginia must admit women to V.M.I., establish an equivalent program at another institution, or develop another solution.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review that ruling last fall.

In his April 22 ruling, Judge Kiser said he agreed with the state that the alternative program for female students at Mary Baldwin College could meet the requirements of the Fourth Circuit order without adopting the same rigorous military methods in use at Virginia Military Institute.

Judge Says No to Summer Tuition: A Kentucky circuit-court judge has ruled that students at private and parochial schools should not be charged tuition to attend public school summer programs in the state.

The benefits of public summer-school programs "flow to children needing extra help and to the commonwealth as a whole,'' and they "do not directly benefit the private or parochial schools,'' the judge said in his ruling last month.

The state constitution prohibits the use of public school funds to support nonpublic schools.

Until 1991, the state cited this prohibition in denying nonpublic-school students access to summer programs.

But in April 1991, Commissioner of Education Thomas C. Boysen agreed that private school students could attend if they paid tuition.

The state education department was then sued for equal access to summer programs by the parents of two parochial-school students in school districts in Fayette and Campbell counties, with the backing of the Kentucky Catholic Conference.

School-Construction Inspections: The collapse of the cafeteria roof at an elementary school in the North Syracuse, N.Y., school district has prompted state officials to call for the inspection of other New York schools built using similar construction materials.

The collapse, which occurred suddenly but caused no injuries, was blamed on the failure of several glue-laminated wood beams that had supported the roof of the cafeteria since the school was built in 1956.

The state education department's facilities-planning office has urged public and private school officials to have such beams examined for cracks, delamination, or signs of movement.

State officials said the beams typically are found in large, open areas such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, and large lecture halls.

Vol. 13, Issue 33

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