State News Roundup
The Vermont Labor Relations Board has ordered the Hinesburg school district to rehire the 28 elementary-school teachers it replaced two weeks after the teachers struck last April.
The Hinesburg strike has become the longest teacher strike in the state's history.
In order to be rehired, the labor board told the teachers that they must make an unconditional offer to return to work. The board also ruled that if the district fails to rehire the teachers when they offer to return, it must pay them back pay starting from the date of receiving the teachers' notice of intent to return.
The teachers were expected to deliver their letters offering to return to work late last week.
The teachers in the rural town struck last spring after the school board rejected a fact-finder's recommendation that the starting salary be increased $1,100 to $12,900. The board refused to reconsider its offer of $12,300.
Approximately 900 children in Roebuck, S.C., fled school late last month when a toxic cloud of sulfur dioxide escaped from a nearby chemical plant.
The accident occurred at the abco Industries plant shortly before 10:30 A.M. on Aug. 29. Workers in the plant were mixing a dye stripper that enhances the ability of fabrics to retain color. State officials conjecture that an impurity in the chemical compound caused the unexpected reaction.
Ronald Garrett, an environmental manager with the Appalachia Three Health District, said that state officials do not know how much sulfur dioxide was released into the atmosphere, but that it was enough to cause irritation to the respiratory system and other mucous membranes.
During the crisis, children were forced to evacuate three local elementary schools. Two day-care centers in the area also were closed, and several hundred residents within a one-mile radius of the plant were told to leave their homes.
The evacuation was called off around 2:30 P.M. Mr. Garrett said that the plant reopened Sept. 4, and that there was no continued health risk.
Brunswick County, Va., teachers and cafeteria workers reporting for a routine tuberculin test last month accidently received the vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough instead.
The error was discovered when all but six of the 81 school employees who thought they had been given a skin test to check for tuberculosis experienced adverse reactions to the serum, ranging from swelling to headaches and nausea, said J. Grady Martin, division superintendent for the Brunswick County Public Schools. One cafeteria worker was hospitalized with severe flu-like symptoms, but was later released.
"The nurses at the health department erred in selecting the vaccine," said Mr. Martin, who added that the county health director had acknowledged the error and apologized for it in a letter to the school board.
Several of the school employees who received the wrong serum had threatened to sue the health department for damages, but as of last week no legal action had been taken, according to Mr. Martin.
A skin test or chest x-ray to check for the communicable disease is required for all new county teachers, every three years for practicing teachers, and annually for cafeteria workers.