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Come fall, Michigan's public school students will find an unusual new entr‚e on their lunch menus: cherry burgers.

The state's school-lunch program plans to add the burgers--lean beef mixed with cherries and oat bran--to its standard offerings of cheese pizza and tacos.

"The kids like it, and it's a good source of fiber," said Ray Pleva, the meat entrepreneur who introduced the high-protein, low-fat cherry burgers into five Michigan districts two years ago.

The state's reaction to the burgers was so positive that Mr. Pleva is asking the U.S. Agriculture Department to include what he calls "the burger of the future" in the national school-lunch program. The department last year issued new nutritional guidelines designed to cut the fat content in school meals.

Phil Shanholtzer, a U.S.D.A. spokesman, recently sampled Mr. Pleva's product as part of a preliminary review. "We did some initial taste-testing, and it wasn't bad," he said.

But before the cherry burger is approved, Mr. Shanholtzer said, it must be evaluated for shelf life, price, and nutritional value.

Worried that where there is no smoke there may be fire, the Dearborn, Mich., school district has reopened the restrooms it closed recently at one high school.

Officials had decided to close eight of the 12 restrooms at Dearborn High School because it was difficult to patrol all of them to make sure students were not smoking. But Jean King, a lawyer in Ann Arbor, filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Education Department, saying that limiting bathroom access was unfair to the 600 girls in the school.

Ms. King argued that long lines and too few bathroom visits could increase the risk of urinary-tract infections for girls.

Some students found the policy an inconvenience, but parents who had asked for a tighter smoking patrol had lodged no complaints.

Officials at the school, though, decided this month to rescind the policy to avoid a potentially costly legal battle with the Education Department.

The officials who were less than eager to make a stink about the issue said they will try another option, perhaps boosting the suspension for students caught smoking from one day to five days.

--Jessica Portner & Lonnie Harp

Vol. 14, Issue 35

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