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The U.S. Supreme Court refused last week to revive a lawsuit against the Dallas school district over the shooting death of a student in a high school hallway.

The High Court on March 20 declined without comment to hear the appeal of Andrew Johnson, whose 15-year-old son was shot and killed by an outsider at A. Maceo Smith High School in 1991.

Mr. Johnson alleged in his suit that the Dallas district should be held partially responsible for the death because of lax security at the high school. The school's metal detectors were not in use on the day of the shooting, and school employees failed to stop the outsider from entering the building, the suit alleged.

Both a U.S. District Court judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected several legal theories under which Mr. Johnson sought to hold the district liable. In a 2-to-1 decision, the Fifth Circuit majority said it had sympathy for them, but found "no constitutional damage remedy available to [the victim's] family."

The case was Johnson v. Dallas Independent School District (Case No. 94-1270).

Separately, the High Court ruled on March 22 that federal welfare law does not bar states from adopting rules that equalize benefits for households of equal size, regardless of whether the children in the household are all siblings.

The unanimous ruling in a case from California, Anderson v. Green (No. 93-1883), suggests that the Court believes the states have latitude to tinker with welfare provisions unless Congress specifically says otherwise.

Inaugural Waiver: Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley this month granted the first waiver under last year's amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The waiver will allow the Palm Beach County, Fla., school district to use its Title I compensatory-education dollars in elementary schools before using the money on middle or high schools that may have higher poverty rates.

That has been common practice since the Title I program began in 1965, but a provision added in last year's reauthorization law requires districts to serve all schools, including middle and high schools, where 75 percent or more students are poor before serving other schools.

However, the law also gave the Secretary of Education new authority to waive some rules when he decides they are impeding worthy reforms.

The Palm Beach waiver will permit the district to delay sending Title I money to middle or high schools until the 1996-97 school year--and will thereby allow the district to pursue six new schoolwide projects next year and continue service to schools now receiving Title I funding.

"This is a good example of where easing regulations helps schools," Secretary Riley said in a statement.

Vol. 14, Issue 27

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