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On the outside

State school boards often must consider a broad spectrum of weighty matters having to do with educating young minds.

The principal of Midway Elementary School in Silver Creek, Ga., was surprised, however, to find that the state board was the final arbiter of whether his school could move its bathroom sinks.

This summer, the Floyd County pre-K-5 school is moving its girls' and boys' restrooms from within four-classroom "pods"--where flooding of classrooms has been a problem--to higher-traffic positions ringing the school.

In making the change, Midway Principal Charles Elliott said, administrators wanted to place sinks just outside the restroom entrance, in an alcove facing the corridor. That would make it easier for teachers leading their classes to lunch to make a quick stop for students to wash their hands. And it would allow quick detection of water fights.

But such a change would violate the school building code, which requires sinks to be in the restroom, Mr. Elliott said. Enter the Georgia state board.

Last month, the 580-student Midway Elementary won the board's permission to engage in sink reform. The renovations are expected to be completed this month.

Surprise Visit

Simpsonville, Ky., elementary school officials have decided to rewrite the rules on visitors since a Hollywood celebrity extolled the virtues of industrial hemp to a class of 5th graders.

Actor Woody Harrelson, who was invited by a 5th-grade teacher to speak, last month explained to the children that hemp is used in clothing, horse bedding, and other products. Mr. Harrelson was accompanied by farmers from several countries where hemp is a legal crop, grown for the tough fibers in its stems. But the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant can be dried and smoked in the form of cigarettes.

Under Kentucky law, there is no difference between hemp and marijuana, said Leon Mooneyhan, the superintendent of the Louisville-area district.

"Kids were probably enthralled by seeing a star, but Mr. Harrelson's advocating something that's against the law," Mr. Mooneyhan said. Parents should have been given the right to exempt their children from class that day, he said.

From now on, the school's principal will be notified at least two days before any speaker can address a class.

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