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A blind runner who was barred from participating in high-school races can compete after all, a state official has ruled.

Tim Willis, a senior at Shamrock High School in DeKalb County, Ga., was told last month that he was ineligible to compete because he ran using a tether and a non-student guide. State officials said their decision was in accord with national high-school athletic-federation rules outlawing the use of artificial aids.

But less than a week later, an official of the Georgia High School Association met with Shamrock High's principal and track coach. "It was all a misunderstanding," Fay Smith, the principal, said.

Mr. Willis can now compete using his tether and guide, although the tether can be no more than 36 inches long and the guide must refrain from "encouragement, coaching, or advice" while accompanying him.

Mr. Willis, who set records last summer in a national competition for blind athletes, missed the season's first two races.

According to Ms. Smith, he competed three days after the meeting and finished fifth. "We won [the meet] by one point," she said. "He's the reason we won."


The North Dakota Board of Public School Education has approved a plan to award grants of up to $20,000 to school districts to explore ways to consolidate.

School districts meeting various size criteria may apply for grants to study ways in which clusters of four to six districts can share administrative staffs and academic programs.

Because drastic declines in student enrollment have endangered many rural schools, said Wayne Sanstead, state superintendent of education, schools need to examine ways to improve their curricular offerings.

Districts have until Dec. 1 to apply for the grants. Districts that do reorganize will become eligible for up to $165 extra in state aid per student for three years.


The California Department of Education will sponsor between six and eight regional conferences on steroid use for school personnel this school year.

A new curriculum developed for the state by the San Diego county office of education will be incorporated into the conferences. The five-part, optional lesson plan for students in grades 7-12 will be sent to all San Diego principals this fall, and the state will make copies of the curriculum available to school personnel throughout the state.

State lawmakers adopted a measure in 1986 that required the state education department to produce educational materials about steroids for students and parents, but appropriated no money for the program.

Steroid use has been associated with many side effects, including stunted growth, liver cancer, high blood pressure, and increased aggression.

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