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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

Reform group wants to change remapping process

Monday, 24 March 2014 02:56 Published in Local News
   CHICAGO (AP) - A reform group wants to put the issue of how Illinois draws political boundaries on November's ballot.
   The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports that the Yes! for Independent Maps campaign has proposed creating a bipartisan commission to draw districts, which would take the power away from lawmakers. The campaign needs to collect roughly 300,000 signatures before May 4, but organizers say they hope to get more.
   The remapping process has been under heavy scrutiny.
   Every decade, Illinois redraws political maps based on population. However, questions have been raised about lawmaker involvement, including criticism that the process is used to protect incumbents.
   Democrats led the remap in 2011 because they control both chambers and the governor's office. But Republicans sued and federal judges characterized the remap as a "blatant political move."
 

   After months of requesting that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers take the lead in resolving the issues surrounding two landfills in Bridgeton, it looks as though local residents will get at least part of what they've been demanding.  EPA officials announced Friday that the Corps of Engineers will help construct an isolation barrier between an underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill and radioactive materials in the adjacent West Lake Landfill.

   Last week, Attorney General Chris Koster had urged the EPA to move quickly on the barrier.  

   The radioactive waste was dumped illegally in North County about 40 years ago.  Environmental groups and residents have been calling for the Army Corps to take over the cleanup.  Those calls became more urgent in recent months as the risk of the fire spreading became known. 

Hazelwood agrees to pay to educate expelled student

Monday, 24 March 2014 02:45 Published in Local News

   The Hazelwood School District will pay tuition for an expelled middle school student to receive an education through a contract with an alternative learning center.  That after a settlement was reached between the district and Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.  

   The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the 13 year old had been expelled last year for selling pills to another student.  The paper reports the student couldn't afford private school, or even a computer.  He also couldn't access alternative education programs through the juvenile courts, because he hadn't been charged with a crime.  So he sued claiming his right to a free, public education was being infringed.

   Legal Services executive director Dan Glazier tells the paper the case is one of the first of its kind filed in Missouri. Glazier says the problem is fairly rare, since so few students are actually expelled in the state, fewer than 60 all of last year. 

   The Hazelwood settlement stops short of obligating school district to always serve students who are expelled.  But as part of the settlement, Hazelwood has agreed to consider similar arrangements on a case-by-case basis.

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