District News Roundup

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The Livingston, Calif., school district may bar students who practice the Sikh religion from carrying symbolic daggers in school, a federal judge has ruled.

The American Civil Liberties Union had sued the district on behalf of a family of three Sikh students, arguing that the ban violated the students' constitutional right to free exercise of religion. The family has kept the three children out of school since January.

The daggers, known as kirpans, are dull three- to four-inch blades kept in sheaths and usually worn under clothing by baptized members of the Sikh faith. The Sikh students argued that the daggers posed no threat to other students.

District officials, however, said the daggers are weapons that are banned from school premises by district rules and state law.

In a May 27 ruling, U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. of Fresno sided with the district, writing that the potential danger to other students from the daggers outweighs the family's claim to free exercise of religion.

Stephen V. Bomse, the lawyer for the Sikh family, said last week that the ruling would be appealed.

Student Surrenders in Class: A 17-year-old honors student in Union, Ky., who allegedly had just killed his parents and two sisters showed up for his trigonometry class with the gun used in the killings, then surrendered after talking to an assistant principal, police said.

Local officials, who were ordered by a judge not to discuss the case, had not decided last week whether to charge the boy as an adult or juvenile. Friends told investigators that the student at Ryle High School in Union, a suburb of Cincinnati, apparently began having problems after being shunned by a girlfriend.

About a week before the killings late last month, he was given community service for bringing a stun gun to school. His parents had punished him by taking away the keys to his pickup truck and not allowing him to listen to his favorite music, officials said.

Superintendent Reappears, Files Suit: The superintendent of the Hamden, Conn., public schools, who disappeared for 10 days after his arrest in March on drunken-driving charges, is suing the town and school board in an effort to be reinstated. Superintendent David Shaw last month filed a lawsuit in state superior court accusing the town and the board of breach of contract and defamation of character, among other charges.

Mr. Shaw, who has said that he is an alcoholic, fled to Louisiana in March after reports that he was wearing women's clothing at the time of his arrest. Mr. Shaw has sought treatment for alcoholism since he returned to Hamden and says he is ready to resume the duties of his $94,000-a-year post, said Hugh F. Keefe, his lawyer.

Mr. Shaw has continued to receive pay, although he has not been at work since April 11, Mr. Keefe added.

The board was still deliberating last week on whether to reinstate Mr. Shaw.

'Do Not Resuscitate': Maryland's attorney general has issued a nonbinding opinion that schools must obey "do not resuscitate'' requests from the parents of terminally ill children.

"School officials have no legal basis for substituting their medical judgment for that of the parents and the physician,'' wrote Attorney General J. Joseph Curran in an opinion filed last month at the request of a Frederick County state legislator.

A spokesman for the attorney general said this was the first such legal opinion in the nation on the controversial issue.

Mr. Curran noted in his opinion the decision by Rock Creek School, a Frederick County special-education school, to honor a so-called D.N.R. request from a parent.

County school officials had been drafting a districtwide policy, modeled on others in Maryland, in which schools would not honor such requests, according to Mark Blom, the assistant superintendent for legal affairs for the Frederick County schools.

Officials are reviewing that policy, according to Mr. Blom, because the attorney general's opinion can be used in court challenges.

Vol. 13, Issue 37

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