A Sort of Homecoming, Pimping the Supe’s Ride, and a Sticky Situation

Teacher Magazine’s take on education news from around the Web, Jan. 14-20.

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They say you can’t go home again, but apparently, you can go back to school. Just ask Francisco Serrano. After he was arrested—twice—for trespassing at Apple Valley High School outside Minneapolis, shocked staffers realized the 21-year-old homeless man had been living at the school for two weeks, blending in with other students during the day and furtively eating and sleeping at night.

The youthful-looking Serrano, who’d attended the school as a sophomore some years back and still had his student ID, apparently passed the time at Apple Valley much like his would-be peers—sitting in the back of at least a few classes, eating lunch in the cafeteria, showering in the locker room, and attending basketball games. He even helped build the set for the school’s winter play. While some parents are now worried about security at the 2,300-student school, principal Steve Degenaar said the overwhelming reaction has been sympathy. “I think he thought of this as being a safe place,” he said.

You’d think one-room schools would be safe from the whims of the Internal Revenue Service. But after Hill Public School in Bayard, Nebraska, made a $39 accounting error, the IRS slapped the tiny schoolhouse with a $10,000 fine. In a scenario right out of the Heartless Bureaucrat Handbook, the feds cited the school for flagrantly and repeatedly exceeding a quarterly withholding limit by a whopping $3.25 over a three-year period. The school has resorted to selling its 1985 Chevy van, which it uses to take its eight students on field trips, to help pay the fine.

School board members in Lawrence, Massachusetts, had car troubles of a different sort after their superintendent asked them to help pimp his ride, as the kids like to say. Seems that Wilfredo Laboy’s wife and other female family members had trouble climbing into his district-supplied SUV—a vehicle intended only for school business—while wearing high heels or dresses, so he asked board members to foot the bill for $490 running boards. Some board members balked at the request. “We should be grateful we’re receiving money from the state, and we need to spend it the best way we can,” one said.

A perennial Web Watch favorite, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is balking at the ongoing presence of junk food in his state’s schools. Last year, the Governator(TM) vetoed a bill requiring schools to label junk food because it didn’t go far enough, and now he’s repeating his call to—you guessed it—terminate the supply of unhealthy foods altogether. “If you want to get rid of junk food, just pass a law that says you are not going to have any junk food in the schools ... because it is destroying our kids,” he said, dismissing financial concerns about lost vending machine revenue and lucrative soft drink endorsements by telling school officials to “find the money somewhere else.”

That’s always a possibility, though the folks at Union Mine High School in El Dorado, California, certainly won’t be scrambling to seal a sponsorship deal with a superglue manufacturer anytime soon. The school was closed Tuesday after four pranksters used the epoxy to glue shut the hundreds of doors throughout the building. As you may recall from the commercials featuring a construction worker affixing his hard hat to a girder, adhesives of this ilk can be strong—so strong, in fact, that school maintenance workers had to rip out each lock to get back into classrooms. All told, the prank cost the school $10,000 and prompted an unsolicited superglue testimonial from principal Carl Fickle: “It seems to be a very effective product,” he said. “And I suppose if anybody sold multiple containers of superglue in the last few days, we’d like to hear from them.” In fact, that’s just what wound up happening: It dawned on a Wal-Mart employee that the seemingly upstanding kids who had cleared the shelves of the product may have had less-than-honorable intentions; one current student and three former ones were arrested shortly thereafter.

We’ll just have to wait and see whether the justice system sticks it to them.

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