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Pruitt rips Okla. high court on abortion dismissal
SEAN MURPHY Associated Press OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) ? Republican Attorney General Scott Pruitt blamed the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday for another abortion-related legal setback, while legislators and activists promised to push for further restrictions when the Republican-controlled Legislature returns in February. In 2012, the Oklahoma Supreme Court found a law restricting the use of abortion-inducing drugs was unconstitutional. Pruitt appealed. Last week, at the request of the nation?s high court, the Oklahoma Supreme Court clarified that the law not only limited drug-induced abortions, but also effectively banned them altogether. Pruitt, a Republican, said that ?broad and erroneous interpretation? of Oklahoma law left the U.S. Supreme Court little choice but to dismiss the case Monday. ?We are disappointed with the state court?s interpretation of a law that was crafted by the Legislature to protect Oklahoma women from potentially deadly protocols that have never been approved by the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration),? Pruitt said in a statement. The U.S. Supreme Court did not comment on the dismissal. State Rep. Randy Grau, who authored the bill in the House, also said the Oklahoma court misunderstood his intent and that he plans to introduce changes next year that will address the court?s concerns. ?That is certainly within the power of the Legislature to regulate and ensure the safe practice of medicine in the state,? said Grau, R-Edmond. Since Republican Gov. Mary Fallin?s election in 2010 to accompany a GOP-controlled Legislature, Oklahoma has become a testing ground for some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Tony Lauinger, the chairman
Kiwanis cause pancake frenzy
of the anti-abortion group Oklahomans for Life, said although the group?s plans for the 2013 session haven?t been finalized, he?s confident further restrictions will be introduced. ?Pro-life legislation is well received in the Legislature principally because the people of Oklahoma are pro-life, and legislators recognize that,? Lauinger said. But courts have repeatedly shot down several measures as unconstitutional, including one that would have required women seeking abortions to be shown an ultrasound image while hearing a description of the fetus and another to grant ?personhood? status to a fertilized human egg. Martha Skeeters, director of the abortion rights group Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, said she hopes the U.S. Supreme Court?s ruling will give legislators some pause before pushing for more abortion restrictions. ?We urge the Oklahoma Legislature to stop passing unconstitutional laws meant to punish women trying to exercise their constitutional rights,? Skeeters said. ?We hope that in the future politicians will show more respect for women and their health.?
63 percent of Okla. kids not enrolled in pre-K
JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS Associated Press Gregg Clay and the rest of the Kiwanis Club members serve up the annual Kiwanis Pancake Supper today at the Clay Jones Community on the Bryan County Fair Grounds. The event lasts from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and includes pancakes, bacon, sausage and a drink for $6. The money goes to Kiwanis Bryan County youth projects. Today?s goal is to serve 5,000 pancake meals.
federal report on day cares
JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS Associated Press TULSA (AP) ? Oklahoma?s chief social services agency is disputing a federal report to be released Tuesday that alleges that the state doesn?t require day care providers to conduct background checks on janitors. The 37-page report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services? Office of Inspector General found that Oklahoma was among 18 states that didn?t require a check on janitorial staff. The report was commissioned because roughly 1.6 million kids use federal subsidies to attend a child care program at about 500,000 centers and home providers in the U.S. For states to be eligible to receive federal funds, each must certify that it has licensing requirements for child care services that are designed to protect the health and safety of children being cared for by those who provide the services. States must also have procedures to ensure that providers comply with health and safety requirements. The federal report found that Oklahoma conducts background checks on day care owners, directors, facility staff and drivers. The only category left unchecked was janitorial staff, which Oklahoma?s Department of Human Services said Monday should have been marked because state law requires such checks of all janitorial staff. Mark Beutler, communications manager for the state agency, said staff was reaching out Monday to the federal investigators to have the report corrected and couldn?t say where or how the breakdown between the federal and state agencies took place. ?Oklahoma statutes are very clear: All day care employees are required to have a background check,? Beutler said. ?The box should have been checked where it mentions janitors.? ?This misinformation is upsetting,? he said in an interview Monday. The federal report also found that all 50 states had requirements in place to protect the health and safety of children served by licensed day care providers in three areas: prevention and control of infectious disease, building safety and minimum health and safety training.
Piearcy named NWH Teacher of the Year
The Northwest Heights Teacher of the Year is Mrs. Vickie Piearcy. She was congratulated by teachers, staff, students, and her family at Rise and Shine this week. She has been a kindergarten teacher at NWH since 2010. Mrs. Piearcy was selected by her colleagues and will represent Northwest Heights at the district level in December. She is pictured with her husband Rob, daughter Taylor, son Tanner, mother Carolyn Arnett, and father Butch Arnett. TULSA (AP) ? Nearly two-thirds of Oklahoma?s kids f om low-income families were not attending a preschool program from 2009-2011, according to a national study released Monday. The Kids Count report by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, which advocates for investing in the crucial early years of a child?s life, also found that more than half of Oklahoma?s kids from birth to eight years old were living in low-income households last year. The foundation calculated low-income households as those with incomes below 200 percent of the 2012 federal poverty line ? $46,566 for a family of four. The 20-page report underscored Oklahoma?s recent troubles in dealing with early childhood issues. In June, the foundation ranked the state 36th in the country for child well-being based on finances, education, health and family and community issues. The state?s Department of Human Services is also undergoing a major overhaul as the result of a settlement of a class-action lawsuit that accused the agency of victimizing foster children by failing to find safe homes for them and inadequately monitoring their safety because employees were overworked and poorly managed. The so-called Pinnacle Plan is Oklahoma?s $153 million blueprint for remaking the system over the next five years. Monday?s report found that between 61 percent and 63 percent of 3-and 4-year-olds living in low-income families were not enrolled in preschool programs in Oklahoma from 2009-2011. The foundation emphasized that attending a high-quality preschool program can significantly contribute to the healthy development of young children, especially those from lower-income homes. ?The children not enrolled in pre-K, when Oklahoma makes pre-K available to every child in the state, that is alarming,? said Terry Smith, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, which works with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to compile statewide data. ?The critical nature of those years, the brain development, is important. ?Kids that aren?t getting that, they?re not going to be as successful,? Smith said. While the state has made some strides in investing in early childhood development programs, Smith said the current focus and funding priorities among many Oklahoma lawmakers has been the reform of the child welfare system. Smith said state child advocates plan to make the case to the Legislature in 2014 to not abandon other programs that are already working for Oklahoma?s kids. ?I think they?re just trying to put the fire out right now at DHS, but we must continue to invest in early childhood programs,? he said. See PRE-K | 7
Umsted named WI Teacher of the Year
Washington Irving Elementary Teacher of the Year 2013- 2014, Mr. Chuck Umsted, was selected for the honor by a vote of his peers and was presented with a candy bouquet and a plaque. Mr. Umsted will continue in the district selection process for the title of ?District Teacher of the Year.?