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A boy's decision to bring a live bat to his junior high school has proved costly for a Texas district and painful for dozens of his classmates, who must be inoculated for rabies.

The 7th grader brought the bat to Carthage Junior High School on May 2 and took it to the school's science classroom, where it was handled by more than 60 students, officials of the Carthage district said.

Officials later discovered the bat had rabies, and the district agreed to pick up the tab for inoculating the students, which could top $30,000, officials said.

Rabies, a viral infection that spreads through contact with saliva or respiratory secretions, is extremely rare in humans in the United States, said Dr. Michael White of the Texas health department. But, he added, it is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.

"While no students were bitten, there had been salivary contact with the bat, from lifting the bat's lips, to playing with its teeth, to kissing the bat," Dr. White said.

District officials have asked parents of the students to file claims with their own insurance to offset the cost of the shots.

Newark Takeover Urged: Commissioner of Education Leo Klagholz of New Jersey recommended late last week that the state take control of the 48,000-student Newark school district.

It is the state's constitutional responsibility to insure that every child receives a "thorough and efficient education," Mr. Klagholz said in a written statement May 19. "Clearly, with the evidence that has been presented to me, that is not the case in Newark, and in fact has not been the case for a very long time," he said.

The recommendation now goes to the state school board. Last month, an administrative-law judge recommended a takeover, calling achievement "dismal."

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