CHAMPAIGN – Finally, back to the books.
Champaign students were in school today for the first time in a week.
URBANA – The Urbana school board voted Thursday to hire Taylor Law Offices P.C. of Effingham to independently investigate "all matters relevant to Jon White's employment, the November 2006 school district investigation and the most recent allegations," according to a press release issued immediately after the school board's unanimous decision.
Thomas Paine Elementary School teacher Jon White of Normal is charged with three counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.
SPRINGFIELD– Former AT&T Illinois President and University of Illinois graduate Carrie Hightman was named chairwoman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education on Wednesday.
She replaces James Kaplan, who announced his retirement from the board on Friday.
Students may have been back in some classroom today, but were their heads in their books, or outside on the sledding hill?
"Routine will be the best thing that can happen to us, whenever we get back," said Urbana Middle School Principal Nancy Clinton. "The routine is what will settle everybody down, including the teachers."
The Bismarck-Henning School Board discussed giving two locations in the district new looks.
The Wilcox Foyer Committee was formed to advise the school board about the design and presentation of items in the Wilcox Foyer trophy cases at the high school, next to Wilcox Gymnasium.
URBANA – They may not have looked the part, but parents attending Wiley Elementary School's celebration of National African American Parent Involvement Day played with blocks and dug into their lunches with all the gusto of their grade-school children.
For Robert James, the day is a great opportunity to share lunch with his first-grade daughter, Nyah. "It's just time to spend with her," he said.
CHAMPAIGN – Students at Dr. Howard Elementary School are up out of their seats on Friday mornings, stretching or doing push-ups against their desks before getting started on schoolwork.
They're moving almost the entire time during PE class, rather than listening to instructions or waiting for their turn at a game. And they're talking about nutritious food choices in the lunchroom.
MANSFIELD – The Blue Ridge school board is considering replacing aging Mansfield Elementary School with a new addition attached to the north side of Mansfield Junior High.
The proposal is one of several future plans for the district that will be discussed at the school board meeting Feb. 19.
URBANA – The father of a teen girl sexually molested by an Urbana school district employee at school two years ago feels district administrators may not have learned from previous mistakes. His comments came in the wake of recent charges that Thomas Paine teacher Jon White molested students in that building.
"The pattern is the same. They're doing an internal investigation and they're not experienced," said the man, who asked not to be identified. Not naming him is in keeping with The News-Gazette's long-standing policy of not identifying victims of sex crimes.
RANTOUL – Balky buses, fuel turned to gel by frigid weather, left some Rantoul students stranded at stops this week waiting for transportation to school that never arrived.
But Rantoul Township High School Superintendent David Requa said the district and parents quickly got the word about the bus breakdowns out – and the waiting students in.