Districts News Roundup

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Hoping to halt the spread of a shigellosis outbreak among children in Peoria, Ill., school officials are placing adult monitors in restrooms to encourage pupils to wash their hands.

Since January, the city has confirmed 193 cases of the contagious disease, which is believed to be spread by fecal-oral contact, according to Kate Van Beek, an education supervisor in the city's health department. People with shigellosis typically experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, cramps, and fever.

Because 83 percent of the reported cases have involved children age 12 and under, Ms. Van Beek said, the health department alerted the school system and recommended that the monitors be used. She said children who do not wash their hands after using the restroom and who then share their food may be transmitting the disease to their friends and families.

Cecil Brown, the district's director for pupil services, said a letter was sent home with students early this month to explain the problem and to recommend good hygiene.

An 18-year-old Kentucky man has been sentenced to five days in jail for refusing to send his pregnant 13-year-old wife to school, and the girl has been ordered to return to classes and spend 22 days in juvenile detention.

In sentencing Richard Partin and his wife this month, Judge Wilfred Schroder of Kenton County Juvenile Court rejected a plea from Gov. Martha Layne Collins, who had written a letter arguing that married minors in the state do not have to attend school.

"I'm surprised the Governor got involved when the court had assumed jurisdiction in the case,'' Judge Schroder said.

The judge had declared the girl a ward of the court after she was convicted of shoplifting last year. He ordered her to stay in school until she turned 18 or received a high-school diploma, a vocational-training certificate, or a General Educational Development certificate.

In January, when she was apprehended for curfew violations, she claimed she did not have to attend school because she was married, Judge Schroder said. But the judge rejected that argument and ordered her husband to make "every reasonable effort to keep her in school.'' When she was found to be truant this month, he held both in contempt.

"The fact that she's pregnant means more so than ever she'll need education, both for the sake of the child and for her own sake,'' Judge Schroder said. "She has the ability, too. That's the sad part about it.''

A plan to consolidate high schools in a Louisiana district is "overtly racist,'' according to a lawyer for parents and other local residents who have filed suit in an effort to block the use of tax money raised for the plan's implementation.

The plan adopted by the St. Landry's Parish school board would reduce the number of high schools from 11 to 6--3 predominantly black and 3 predominantly white, said the lawyer, Marion Overton White. The schools would be located in primarily white neighborhoods, he said.

When voters gave approval last May to a $28-million tax increase to finance the plan, they had been led to believe that the new schools would be in integrated areas, Mr. White maintained last week.

The schools' location would reduce black influence on personnel decisions, he added, because the school board, whose members represent geographical areas, "has an employment policy of promoting, demoting, and dismissing people only with the local school-board members' approval.''

But the parish's superintendent of schools, Henry DeMay, defended the plan, saying that the board's goal had been to find "centrally located places'' for the new buildings.

The lawsuit, filed in state court on April 1, calls for the repeal of the tax increase. A judge last week postponed until May 1 an earlier restraining order barring the use of the revenue.

Vol. 06, Issue 31

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