Conn. District Settles Suit By Athletes Cut From Team

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When three Hamden, Conn., students were cut from their high school's girls basketball team four years ago, they did more than cry foul. They filed a lawsuit.

The Hamden High School players--who were dismissed, reinstated, and then benched during the 1991-92 season--sued their coach in state court for "emotional distress." And this month, they won a settlement totalling $13,500.

The lawsuit by the students apparently was the first case of its kind in the country, said John R. Williams, a New Haven lawyer who represented them. Mr. Williams argued that Coach John Ceneri "routinely demoralized" the students because he had a vendetta against their parents.

Mr. Ceneri, who now coaches at a Hamden middle school, said the settlement sets a dangerous precedent for school athletics because it allows parents and students to second-guess a coach's decision.

Transfer Restrictions Upheld: Despite Iowa's open-enrollment policy, the Des Moines public schools can limit transfers out of the district, a judge has ruled.

Since 1993, the 31,000-student district has restricted departures that would drop the school district's minority enrollment below 23.5 percent--the district's overall minority population.

The state board of education had tried to strike down the Des Moines policy, arguing that it violated state open-enrollment rules.

A Polk County judge ruled this month, however, that the policy is consistent with a mid-1970's federal desegregation plan.

Six-Year-Old Suspended: A 6-year-old Rhode Island kindergartner returned to school last week after serving only seven days of a 10-day suspension for carrying a knife to school.

The state advocate for the child, who lives in a group home, appealed the suspension directly to the state education department. Peter McWalter, the state education commissioner, issued an order at a June 13 hearing that allowed the boy to return to Agnes Little School in Pawtucket.

School officials said the boy told them he was carrying the serrated butter knife to cut his Fig Newton cookies.

The Pawtucket Superintendent, Emile Chevrette, said last week the district will appeal the decision. "If we are going to support the policy," he said, "then we have to follow the proper procedures."

Vol. 14, Issue 39

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