Continued from page 1

CHICAGO — Students at one charter school network in Chicago know there is a price to pay — literally — for breaking even the smallest rules.

Noble Network of Charter Schools charges students at its 10 high schools $5 for detentions stemming from infractions that include chewing gum and having untied shoelaces. Last school year, it collected almost $190,000 in discipline “fees” from detentions and behavior classes.

But that policy is drawing fire from some parents, advocacy groups and education experts who say Noble is nickel-and-diming its mostly low-income students over insignificant, made-up infractions that have little bearing on academic success.


Girl in visa dispute home after transplant

HACKENSACK — A 5-year-old New Jersey girl whose bone marrow transplant was in doubt at one point owing to a visa dispute involving her Salvadoran older sister emerged from the hospital Monday, ready to begin the slow process of resuming a normal life.

Doctors at Hackensack University Medical Center’s Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital are optimistic that Yarelis Bonilla will make a full recovery after spending the last six weeks in the hospital, several months after being diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia.

“She was very lucky to have a matched sibling donor; those are the patients who usually do the best,” said Dr. Alfred Gillio, who performed the transplant last month and said the girl can return to school in three months.


Jailed woman has history of faked pregnancies

PITTSBURGH — Barry and Rebecca Vest can’t conceive children - or conceive of why a woman pretended to be pregnant and persuaded them to travel from Idaho to Pennsylvania five days after Christmas to adopt a baby that didn’t exist.

The Vests claim to be the latest victims of a woman known to Pennsylvania authorities as 32-year-old Amy Slanina, who, according to court records and interviews, pretends to be pregnant so infertile couples or, in some cases, female friends or lovers will shower her with attention, affection and sometimes money, clothes, food and shelter.

Others, including the Vests, were convinced she was pregnant sight unseen during fast-moving friendships carried out through text messages, phone calls and emails. “She’s the true definition of a predator: She seeks out an adoptive couple and emotionally abuses them,” Mr. Vest said from his home in Rigby, Idaho.

Ms. Slanina has been in jail in Kittanning, some 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, since she was arrested in December on theft of services charges for staying at a battered women’s shelter after allegedly claiming to be the abused wife of a police officer, who authorities say doesn’t exist. She used the shelter’s computer and a cellphone to contact the Vests.

From wire dispatches and staff reports