- - Thursday, June 24, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Parent brawl erupts at kindergarten event

VICTORVILLE — Brawling parents interrupted a Southern California kindergarten graduation ceremony.

School officials placed Puesta del Sol Elementary on lockdown Wednesday morning after a fight broke out among a group of parents.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Karen Hunt said witnesses told deputies several mothers were involved in a verbal argument and it got physical in a field near the ceremony. Several men then jumped into the fray and the incident turned into a brawl.

Miss Hunt said arriving deputies didn’t see any physical contact. There were no arrests, and no one reported injuries.

CONNECTICUT

Airline: Feds barred unloading of plane

HARTFORD — The pilot on a Virgin Atlantic flight that spent several hours on the tarmac after being diverted to Connecticut had asked for permission to unload the stranded passengers, but a customs official threatened to have them arrested if they did, the airline said Thursday.

Customs officials denied the airline’s allegation.

The trans-Atlantic flight’s captain was told by a customs official at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks that passengers couldn’t get off the plane until more immigration officials arrived, Greg Dawson, an airline spokesman in London, said in an e-mail to the Associated Press. It took more than two hours for the officials to arrive, he said.

The London-to-Newark, N.J. flight was diverted because of storms. Passengers sat on the tarmac in Connecticut for four hours late Tuesday and early Wednesday in rising heat and darkness. Travelers said they were offered water but no food; some fainted.

FLORIDA

Man drifts a mile into Gulf on float

BELLEAIR BEACH — A man who apparently passed out on a pool float at a Tampa area beach ended up drifting about a mile from Florida’s shore in the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued the man, identified as Jerry Whipple, on Wednesday afternoon.

Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Mariana O’Leary said they suspect the man was very drunk.

The Coast Guard said a boater reported seeing an unconscious man floating well offshore. The Coast Guard and a Clearwater Fire Rescue unit responded and found the man, still unconscious and wearing a life jacket.

He eventually woke up and was checked by paramedics at a Coast Guard station.

IDAHO

Charter school in Bible case to close

BOISE — An Idaho public charter school that unsuccessfully sued the state for barring use of the Bible as a historical text in the classroom will be shuttered because of financial troubles, officials said Thursday.

The Idaho Public Charter School Commission voted to revoke Nampa Classical Academy’s charter, citing a lack of stability in the school’s finances, despite a school board member’s plea “for grace and mercy.”

While school administrators complain they’ve been unfairly targeted because of their differences with the state over use of the Bible, the commission insists the academy’s money troubles are to blame.

INDIANA

Police: Woman sought to kidnap baby

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana woman with a history of miscarriages faked a pregnancy for nine months, then stabbed a couple in an attempt to kidnap their newborn son and pass him off as her own, police said Thursday.

Stephanie Foster, 34, of Terre Haute, Ind., was arrested Wednesday in Prairie Creek, after police received a 911 call from Ashley Speer reporting that she was being attacked.

Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt said he would ask that she be held without bond until Tuesday, when he plans to file formal charges that could include attempted murder, aggravated battery and attempted criminal confinement resulting in serious bodily injury.

Sheriff Jon Marvel said Mrs. Foster had faked the pregnancy because she didn’t want to tell her husband that she had suffered another miscarriage. As her supposed “due date” approached, she scoured birth announcements and decided to target the Speers, he said.

MASSACHUSETTS

Governor objects to condom plan

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick used his bully pulpit Thursday to call the superintendent of a Cape Cod school district and urge her to revise a new policy allowing even elementary school students to receive free condoms without the knowledge of their parents.

The new policy makes condoms available to all Provincetown public school students and takes effect in the fall. Under the policy, any student requesting a condom from a school nurse must first receive counseling, which includes information on abstinence.

Mr. Patrick, a Democrat seeking re-election this year against a field including two conservative opponents, told the Associated Press on Thursday he objected not only to the age of the students covered by the policy, but also to a provision prohibiting their parents from being told about any request for prophylactics — and from having their objections overrule a distribution.

He said Superintendent Beth Singer, who authored the policy approved by the Cape Cod community’s school board on June 10, is “going to try to walk this back a bit.”

Miss Singer did not return a call and e-mail for comment.

Asked to outline his own views on the subject, Mr. Patrick said: “I don’t want first-graders having access to condoms, but I don’t want first-graders to be sexually active. And, frankly, I don’t think the superintendent does, either. And I think parents should be involved, and I say that as a parent.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports