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STATE BAR BOARD OKS UNION CONTRACT Following nine months of negotiation, State Bar leaders Wednesday approved a labor contract with their approximately 400 unionized employees. Meeting in San Francisco, the Bar’s Board of Governors voted unanimously for the contract, which, among many other things, calls for step increases of 2.5 percent this year and next, and lets continue a study into the possible provision of retiree health benefits. The board passed the contract with virtually no discussion. It was approved April 9 by members of Service Employees International Union Local 535, many of whom are State Bar prosecutors. As he did in April, State Bar Deputy Executive Director Robert Hawley, management’s chief negotiator, said Wednesday that the unbudgeted step increases — which could cost the Bar $800,000 more in salaries this year alone — could prompt layoffs. — Mike McKee MODIFIED ‘TINKER’ TEST APPLIES TO STUDENTS PHILADELPHIA — Since 1969, when the U.S. Supreme Court held that high school students had a First Amendment right to wear black armbands to protest the war in Vietnam, none of the federal appellate courts has tackled the question of whether that decision also applies to elementary school students. And then along came Amanda Walker-Serrano, a third-grader who says she objected to a school trip to the circus because of the mistreatment of circus animals, but that officials at the Lackawanna Trail Elementary School in Factoryville, Pa., blocked her from circulating a petition to her fellow students. Walker-Serrano’s appeal to the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals from a ruling that dismissed her case raised the question of whether the 1969 decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District can be applied to the youngest students. Now the Third Circuit has ruled that while the Tinker test might be useful in the elementary school setting, it must be modified to allow school officials to exercise greater control over younger students. All three judges on the panel authored opinions. And while all three voted to uphold the lower court’s dismissal of the suit, one judge said he disagreed with his colleagues’ reasoning. “That age is a crucial factor in this calculus does not necessary mean that third graders do not have First Amendment rights under Tinker,” Third Circuit Judge Anthony Scirica wrote in an opinion joined by Senior Circuit Judge Morton Greenberg. Under Tinker, schools can regulate student speech whenever the school can show that the speech would be disruptive, or would interfere with the rights of other students, Scirica said. — The Legal Intelligencer

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