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An Illinois appeals court ruled last week that the state's school-finance system is constitutional.

The decision upheld a lower court's ruling that the state constitution does not require the state to guarantee equal school funding or insure that the schools provide an adequate education. (See Education Week, June 17, 1992.)

The Coalition for Educational Rights, a group of 47 school districts that filed the suit, announced that they plan to appeal the case to the state supreme court.

Inequities exist because of state schools' reliance on property-tax revenues, the appeals court noted, but it said that poor school districts should look to the legislature to change the current finance system.

Efforts to put before voters a proposed constitutional amendment addressing finance equity have failed. (See Education Week, April 22, 1992.)

But education spending has emerged as a pivotal issue in Republican Gov. Jim Edgar's bid for re-election next month.

His Democratic challenger, Dawn Clark Nestch, has made an education-funding plan the centerpiece of her campaign. It calls for an increase in the state income tax to pay for a boost in school spending and a property-tax rollback.

Immigration Suit

Gov. Pete Wilson of California has filed a lawsuit against the federal government seeking reimbursement for the cost of educating illegal-immigrant children.

The suit will be combined with two earlier suits seeking to recoup the cost of emergency health care and jail space for illegal aliens.

Mr. Wilson is seeking $5.4 billion for the cost of educating illegal-immigrant children since 1991. The Governor's office says there are approximately 308,000 illegal-immigrant students in California classrooms.

That figure closely resembles an estimate included in a report issued recently by the federal Office of Management and Budget. The O.M.B. commissioned the report to assess the costs of providing certain services, such as education, to illegal immigrants in the seven states most heavily affected by illegal immigration and to evaluate states' own estimates. (See Education Week, Sept. 21, 1994.)

The combined suit is scheduled for its first hearing in federal district court in San Diego on Oct. 11.

Suspension Policy

Teachers in Florida will have more authority to deal with violent students under a new "zero tolerance" policy recently approved by Gov. Lawton Chiles.

The policy, adopted last month, allows teachers to remove violent or disruptive students from their classrooms. It is a clarification of state regulations governing the responsibilities and rights of school officials that had previously not given them explicit authority to do so.

Under the policy, teachers may move a violent student to an alternative classroom or program, and they are given the authority to use force "when necessary" to protect themselves, students, or others from violence.

The new rules also require law-enforcement officials to notify school officials within 24 hours if a student commits an offense outside of school that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult.

This year's state budget includes nearly $13 million to create and maintain alternative classrooms and programs to keep students who are removed from regular schools off the streets. A similar amount was earmarked for hiring school security officers.

Vol. 14, Issue 05

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