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IDAHO

Board OKs state online class requirement

BOISE | Idaho is set to become the first state in the nation to require high school students to take at least two credits online to graduate.

The state Board of Education gave the online education requirement final approval Thursday, despite heavy criticism of the plan at public hearings this summer.

The measure is part of a sweeping education overhaul that introduces teacher merit pay and phases in laptops for every high school teacher and student.

Proponents say the virtual classes will help the state save money and better prepare students for college. But opponents claim they’ll replace teachers with computers and shift state taxpayer money to the out-of-state companies that will be tapped to provide the online curriculum and laptops.

The rule applies to students entering the ninth grade in fall 2012. It goes before Idaho lawmakers for review in the 2012 session, which starts in January.

ILLINOIS

Convictions vacated against 3 in 1991 slaying

CHICAGO | Cook County prosecutors on Thursday vacated the convictions of three of five men serving prison time for the 1991 rape and murder of a 14-year-old suburban Chicago girl after DNA evidence linked another man to the crime.

The men were convicted as teenagers in the rape and murder of Cateresa Matthews of Dixmoor. She disappeared after leaving her grandmother’s house in November 1991 and her body was found weeks later near a highway with a gunshot wound to the mouth.

The murder went unsolved for about a year. Then in 1992, five teens were arrested. Two signed confessions and agreed to testify against the others for shorter prison sentences, even though attorneys said there were inconsistencies in their testimony and DNA evidence taken from the girl did not match any of the five teens.

Prosecutors reopened the case this year after new DNA testing uploaded to a state database linked a convicted rapist to the crime. He has not been charged in Matthew’s killing, but remains under investigation and is serving prison time in Cook County for a drug offense, authorities said.

PENNSYLVANIA

State orders fee increases, layoffs

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