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State Judge Blocks Ouster of East St. Louis Board

An Illinois judge has blocked a state-appointed panel's move to oust East St. Louis' elected school board.

The three-member panel moved to throw out the seven trustees early last month after they disregarded the panel's directive to let Superintendent Geraldine Jenkins' contract expire and to lay off more than 100 nontenured employees. (See Education Week, April 10, 1996.)

But Circuit Court Judge Robert Craig reinstated the board late last month, blocked the appointment of a new one, and declared unconstitutional the section of the law that authorizes such ousters. The state education department is appealing the ruling.

At issue is a state law permitting panels that oversee troubled school districts to remove board members who flout their orders. The judge said that provision violated the trustees' due process rights and effectively disenfranchised district voters.

New Redistricting Plan

The Pittsburgh school district has adopted a revised redistricting plan that scales back an earlier proposal to eliminate most busing but will still allow more children to attend school closer to home.

The two-year plan, which represents a compromise between advocates of neighborhood schools and supporters of busing to promote racial balance, calls for opening six new schools, redraws boundaries, and changes the number of grades served at several schools. The changes are to be phased in over two years, starting in the fall.

About 58 percent of the district's 40,000 students currently attend schools that meet the state's definition of "racially balanced." That figure would have dropped to 45 percent under the original plan but is expected to remain stable under the plan the school board adopted last month. (See Education Week, April 24, 1996.)

The new plan is expected to cost the district about $10 million through 1998.

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