Administrators at Vintage High School in Napa, Calif., never would have believed that an iguana could cause so much trouble. Not until Iggy set their school on fire, that is.
Iggy, the school pet, made his home in the science classroom and had heat lamps attached to his cage to keep him warm at night. On April 15, firefighters believe, his tail knocked over one of the lamps and ignited the sawdust at the bottom of his cage.
The resulting fire caused $750,000 worth of damage. One computer lab was ruined, and there was water and smoke damage throughout the school, wrecking six classrooms.
As for Iggy, the 10-pound iguana somehow got out of his cage and suffered only from smoke inhalation and a singed head.
The school is using portable classrooms while the damaged rooms are being refurbished. The renovations will probably last throughout the summer, said Linda Sedgley, a school secretary.
Ms. Sedgley's husband, Napa fire Capt. Scott Sedgley, said two other local fires have started the same way over the past five years. One occurred at a pet store and the other in a house.
With all the talk about protecting children from dangers on the Internet, a district official in Utah thinks his colleagues could benefit from a cautionary tale about cyberspace as well.
Steven Johnson, the assistant superintendent of the Box Elder school district in Brigham City, Utah, recently learned that a bogus story about his 11,000-student district was floating around the Internet and bouncing from coast to coast via e-mail.
The fake tale, identified as an Associated Press report, supposedly chronicled an uproar in Brigham City concerning a kindergarten teacher who led a classroom game in which "the district's youngest charges were being inculcated with a pro-gay ideology" by mimicking same-sex marriages.
More than 200 parents stormed a school board meeting to protest, the story went on. All of the names, from those of the teacher and parents to that of the elementary school, were phony.
"It's a total fabrication, a complete hoax," Mr. Johnson, said last week. He said he has received about a dozen phone calls from concerned citizens, but still doesn't know who perpetrated the prank.
"This shows what can happen with communication systems," Mr. Johnson said. "Anyone can go on-line and make up stories."
--KAREN ABERCROMBIE & JESSICA PORTNER