District News Roundup

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A Missouri school district's policy of closing its schools from 3 P.M. to 6 P.M. to all community groups except scout troops is an unconstitutional form of viewpoint discrimination, a federal appeals court has ruled.

A nondenominational Christian student group had challenged the Ladue, Mo., district's policy after being denied permission to meet in a junior high school.

A federal district judge dismissed the group's suit. But a panel of the U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Eighth Circuit voted 2 to 1 to reverse. The majority held that the Christian group, like the scout troops allowed to use the school between 3 and 6 P.M., was interested in the moral development of youths. Thus, the court held, the district violated the group's free speech right by discriminating against its religious viewpoint.

Busing Proposal: The Prince George's County, Md., school board has put forth a plan to end the court-ordered busing of district students. The plan calls for the district to stop busing students and focus, instead, on boosting their achievement.

Board members had questioned continuing the busing policy that the district had implemented in 1973, when its schools were 75 percent white. The district's enrollment has since become 69 percent black.

The plan is subject to a final board vote and the approval of the plaintiffs and judge in the district's desegregation case.

Ruling in Texas Suit: A federal judge in Texas has ruled that at-large voting districts for school board seats do not dilute the voting power of minority residents.

U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal dismissed a lawsuit by residents of the Fort Bend school district who argued that the district's voting scheme made it inordinantly difficult for minority candidates to be elected to the 42,000-student district's board.

Desegregation Plan: Rhode Island officials have accepted the Pawtucket school board's plan to bring the district into compliance with state desegregation guidelines.

Commissioner of Education Peter McWalters had ordered the district to devise the plan last year after finding several of its schools were racially imbalanced.

The board proposed a controlled-choice program that takes racial balance into consideration in assigning students to one of the schools they picked to attend.

Student Killed: A state police trooper's stepson faces first-degree murder charges in a shooting last month at an Ottumwa, Iowa, high school.

The victim, a 15-year-old boy, died of two .22-caliber gunshot wounds to the head, police said. The 16-year-old boy arrested in the murder was convicted of armed robbery last year and had been released from juvenile detention five weeks before the shooting.

Vol. 13, Issue 40

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