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Schools say early help puts dent in special needs

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ST. PAUL (AP) — A growing number of school leaders in the Twin Cities are making a push to spend more wisely on education, and they’re turning to programs that assess students early and provide one-on-one intervention to help students stay on course.

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The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Sunday that such programs are time consuming and expensive but have already decreased the number of students classified with certain types of learning disabilities statewide.

“I’ve seen it work,” said Julie Olson, a former elementary school principal and now director of elementary education for District 196, which includes Rosemount, Eagan and Apple Valley schools. “I remember some kids who would have ended up with a special-education classification had it not been for the Reading Recovery program.”

Such programs also have resulted in more students falling into some special-education classifications, such as autism spectrum disorder, because of increased awareness and improved diagnosis.

In general, education costs have held steady even as enrollment declined. Minnesota schools, from kindergarten to high school, represented roughly 40 percent of state spending at $6.2 billion in 2011. One of the largest costs to school districts is special education, which cost $1.8 billion last year when federal spending is included, a $500 million increase from a decade earlier, when adjusted for inflation.

Family of courthouse

shooter pursuing lawsuit

DULUTH (AP) — Relatives of a man who became ill in jail and died after he was accused of shooting two people in a northern Minnesota courthouse say they are pursuing a lawsuit against St. Louis County, but the sheriff is standing by his jail staff.

Sheriff Ross Litman told the Duluth News Tribune that jail workers did everything they could for 42-year-old Daniel Schlienz. Litman said changes in jail procedures aren’t necessary.

“Staff, in my opinion, did their jobs and did it very well,” Litman said.

Schlienz was accused of shooting a prosecutor and another man in the Cook County Courthouse on Dec. 16, and he was being held at the St. Louis County jail. He soon became ill and was taken to a hospital, where he died Dec. 27. An autopsy showed he died from a bacterial infection.

A News Tribune review of written records and recordings of calls Schlienz made to friends and family show staff members checked on Schlienz at regular intervals before he died. The records note that Schlienz was sick but that there weren’t clear indications he should’ve gone to the hospital sooner.

Warm temps extend season

for Lake Superior ferry

BAYFIELD, Wis. (AP) — Residents of Madeline Island normally see a bright spot this time of year: it’s usually so cold they can take an ice road to get to the mainland.

But that’s not the case this season because of mild weather.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that warm weather has extended the Lake Superior ferry season.

Madeline Island resident Burke Henry says people on the island look forward to this time of year so they can come and go as they please. But without the ice road, they are bound to the ferry schedule — and ferry fees.

Henry has tracked winter ferry runs since 1965. He says 1998 is the only year in which the boats operated all winter.

Farm fatality victim identified

ST. CLOUD (AP) — The victim of a fatal farm accident in Stearns County has been identified.

The sheriff’s department says 18-year-old Craig Roger Weichmann of rural Freeport was found dead inside a silo in Millwood Township Saturday afternoon.

His body was taken to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy.

Minn. school board could

change bullying policy

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The school board in Minnesota’s largest school district is preparing to vote on a replacement for a policy that requires teachers to stay neutral when issues of sexual orientation come up in class. The policy has been blamed for fostering bullying.

The Anoka-Hennepin School Board is set to decide Monday night whether to adopt a proposed “Respectful Learning Environment” policy.

The proposal commits the suburban district to a safe and respectful learning environment for all students. It acknowledges contentious political, religious, social or economic issues may come up in school.

When they do, it says, teachers should not attempt to persuade students to adopt or reject any particular viewpoint on those issues. Instead, they should foster respectful exchanges, and staff should affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students.

Man found fatally shot at Minneapolis mall hotel

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis police say they’ve arrested a suspect in a fatal shooting at a downtown hotel during the weekend.

Thirty-three-year-old Jeremy Robert Shannon was found shot several times in a room on one of the upper floors of the Millennium Hotel on the Nicollet Mall. Shannon was pronounced dead at the scene early Saturday morning.

Sgt. Stephen McCarty says the victim and suspect most likely knew each other. McCarty says it appears to be an isolated incident. KARE-TV said the suspect was arrested at the Hyatt across the street.

Family of courthouse shooter pursuing lawsuit

DULUTH (AP) — The family of a man who became ill in jail and later died after he was arrested for a shooting in a northern Minnesota courthouse is pursuing a possible lawsuit against St. Louis County.

But the Duluth News Tribune reports that Sheriff Ross Litman is standing by his jailhouse staff and says they did everything they could for 42-year-old Daniel Schlienz.

Schlienz was in custody in St. Louis County for shooting a prosecutor and another man in the Cook County Courthouse Dec. 16. He died Dec. 27, after he became ill. An autopsy showed he died from a bacterial infection.

Schlienz’s family is questioning his care and says he should’ve been taken to the hospital sooner. Records obtained by the newspaper show he was monitored and received care when he got sick.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889
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