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Recent letter gave misinformation about TCHS prom policy

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

Sadly, I am not perfect. I am reminded of that regularly – especially on Wednesdays when the paper hits the newsstands. That’s when I get calls from people letting me know that something we printed wasn’t quite right – or, sometimes, just plain wrong.

I hate that.

But, it happens, and I do my best to set the record straight. This week, I need to clarify statements published in a letter to the editor in the April 21 issue.

In my haste to make deadline, my editor’s instinct failed and I published a letter that should have been held for a week, so statements made in the letter could be verified and to give school officials a chance to write a “counterpoint”-style letter. I feel this is a fair policy, so that each side can present their version of events and allow readers the opportunity to consider both sides of the story.

I apologize to the district and to Principal Stirling “Buddy” Sampson, and to the readers, for not providing that opportunity.

Sampson called me Wednesday, and I promised, at the very least, to clarify one point made by the letter writer, and that was regarding the student who allegedly was banned from prom for having missed too much school because of the swine flu.

Sampson said students can appeal any decision made by school officials to ban them from an event. He said in the case of prom, any banned student who appealed and provided documentation of a medical condition to justify his or her absences – including swine flu – was approved to go to prom.

Here is the school’s policy for special events, including prom, from the handbook:

“Attendance of special events is a privilege granted to Trimble County High School students. This privilege is granted provided the following criteria have been met:

“l Writing portfolio pieces are complete. (Due to the state-level changes to the writing portfolio requirement, this portion of the policy is obsolete.)

“l All debts have been paid – library fines, lunch charges, textbook and class fees, etc.

“l 94 percent attendance rate*

“l 3 or fewer tardies to class per semester.”

According to the handbook, the asterisk above indicates that “the attendance rate may be appealed because of extenuating circumstances. Appeals should be made to the principal.”

I might add, too, that officially, there were no confirmed cases of swine flu in Trimble County, according to health department officials. That is because the test is costly; doctors treated patients with severe flu symptoms as though they had H1N1, to be on the safe side. The State Department of Public Health’s website, last updated in January, indicated no cases of swine flu in Trimble County. (http://healthalerts.ky.gov/Pages/FluActivity.aspx)

Our first priority as a newspaper is accuracy. That extends beyond articles written by staff members; it is applicable to anything we publish – including letters. I implore anyone who writes a letter to us to refrain from making claims they cannot substantiate. And I will do better to check facts before printing any letters from here on out.

Republicans still need

to vote May 18

In last week’s column, I may have inadvertently made it sound as though Republicans don’t need to bother with the May 18 Primary.

As George Yenowine kindly pointed out to me Monday, that is hardly accurate. While there are no local races in which Republican candidates have challengers, there are several interesting races GOP voters should pay attention to at the state and federal level.

For instance, the 26th District race has incumbent Ernie Harris facing challenger Don Godfrey in the GOP Primary. And it’s a veritable horse race with multiple candidates from both parties vying for retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning’s seat.