Tornadoes in Northern Illinois Leave At Least Five Dead inSchools

September 05, 1990 2 min read

At least five people were reported killed in schools last week when a cluster of tornadoes ripped through several counties in northern Illinois.

Hardest hit were schools in Plainfield. Three people were reported dead at Plainfield High School, which, along with Grand Prairie Elementary School, was leveled by the high winds. At nearby St. Mary Immaculate Catholic School, two were reported dead, including the school’s principal, Sister Mary Keenan. The storm destroyed all of St. Mary’s school buildings as well as the parish church and rectory.

According to press accounts, more than 100 varsity football players at Plainfield High had been practicing on the school’s athletic field when the storm approached. The students moved to the school gymnasium, where they took refuge against an interior wall as the rest of the building collapsed.

Classes in the district, which were scheduled to begin last Wednesday, were canceled through the end of the week.

Teachers in New Hampshire’s Sanborn Regional School District have been ordered to renegotiate their salaries after the state supreme court ruled last month that voters were unaware they had ratified a three-year pact between the teachers and the school district.

In the style of a New England town meeting in which residents gather to make governance decisions, voters attending a districtwide school meeting in March 1989 halved the teachers’ 10 percent salary increase, a sum that had been settled on for the second year of the contract.

In the aftermath, the Sanborn Regional Education Association refused to reopen salary talks. The state labor-relations board supported the union, declaring that the contract had been bargained in good faith.

The state’s high court, however, found otherwise. The meeting warrant, or agenda, had failed to note the contract was for a three-year period, the court ruled.

“Voters were not sufficiently warned,” said Mark V. Joyce, superintendent of schools.

The Des Moines school board has voted to ban discrimination against homosexual students and employees.

The board, at a meeting this summer, voted to add the words “sexual orientation” to district policies outlawing discrimination against employees and students. The policy also prohibits “acts of intolerance or harassment” toward homosexual students and employees.

Students and employees who harrass homosexual students or staff could be disciplined or fired, the new policy states.

A federal district court has been ordered to re-evaluate the case of a former teachers'-union president in a Ohio district who objected on religiousnds to paying agency fees to the National Education Association and its state affiliate.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit last month remanded the case at the request of both parties in the suit filed on behalf of Larry A. Dirr, a veteran teacher in the Patrick Henry, Ohio, school district.

Mr. Dirr, who dropped out of the union after undergoing a religious conversion, claimed his beliefs conflicted with the union’s stance on abortion and homosexuality.

The lower court had ruled in favor of the union, rejecting the teacher’s suggestion that he give his dues to charity, an option that a Michigan court has approved for religious objectors.

Bruce N. Cameron, Mr. Dirr’s lawyer, expects the court to resolve the matter by permitting his client to pay the entire sum to the local union chapter. “This local will be getting a windfall,” said Mr. Cameron, of the National Right to Work Legal Foundation.

A version of this article appeared in the September 05, 1990 edition of Education Week as Tornadoes in Northern Illinois Leave At Least Five Dead inSchools