Ohio Private School ChallengeTo State Testing Law Rejected

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The U.S. Supreme Court refused last week to hear an appeal by private schools in Ohio that challenged a law requiring their students to take state tests.

The private schools argued that the testing requirement essentially turns them into public schools and infringes on the right of parents to choose private education for their children. Two lower federal courts rejected those arguments and upheld the law.

The high court on March 3 refused without comment to hear the schools' appeal in Ohio Association of Independent Schools v. Goff (Case No. 96-1024).

The Ohio legislature in 1992 mandated a series of exit tests for public school students but initially made participation by private schools optional. In 1993, however, the state made private school participation mandatory.

The private schools sued the state, arguing that the testing requirement imposes a state-approved curriculum.

"The testing program is based on the public schools' curriculum and not upon the college-preparatory curriculum" of the independent schools, said the high court brief filed by the OAIS, which represents 30 private schools.

A federal district judge in Cincinnati upheld the tests, saying they did not require private schools to change their curricula. ("Judge Upholds Ohio Test for Private Students," Feb. 7, 1997.)

Official-English Case

In separate action last week, the Supreme Court set aside a lower court's ruling that an Arizona constitutional amendment requiring government business to be conducted in English was a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

In a unanimous ruling in Arizonans for Official English v. Arizona (No. 95-974), Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the case should have been dismissed when the state employee challenging the amendment left her job.

It was fairly clear once the justices heard oral arguments in the case that they were not inclined to rule on the merits of the Arizona measure. ("Official-English Case Bogged Down by Procedure " Dec. 11, 1996.)

Justice Ginsburg said that another challenge to the amendment is now pending before the Arizona Supreme Court.

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