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Lawsuit Is Lesson to Late Reader

October 27, 1986|ANN HEROLD

For nine years she led a double life. Most people in Henniker, N.H., knew Karen Morse as a spirited student and athlete. What they did not know was that she could not read, and that she passed from grade to grade through a sophisticated system of cheating. She made it as far as ninth grade before she was caught. "I did a lot of taking other kids' papers, erasing their names--just cheating, mostly. I really didn't think about it. It was a question of survival," said Karen, now 20 and a college freshman. In ninth grade, Karen was diagnosed as having a learning disability. Her problem actually was dyslexia, a reading dysfunction, and that wasn't identified until Karen was a senior. Henniker High School agreed to pay Karen's tuition to a special school, but refused to pay for a second year. Now, Karen's parents are suing, and the dispute has split their small town. "The feeling in town now is that the school board made a gesture, went beyond their obligation, legal or otherwise, and is now being burned," said Supt. Cynthia Mowles. Karen says that the bitter legal fight has been a lesson to her: "I've lost faith in the judicial system," she said. "It's not what they taught us in school."

--This time it's the real thing, but without the staggering crowds, the fireworks or the hours of TV coverage. Ceremonies today and Tuesday will mark the true anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. The statue was unveiled and dedicated by President Grover Cleveland and French officials 100 years ago on Oct. 28. Three main events are planned for the two-day celebration: a ceremony today on Ellis Island to honor dozens of Americans of diverse ethnic backgrounds; a rededication Tuesday on Liberty Island and a concert that night at Lincoln Center. Organizer Nancy Sureck said the concert was entitled "Liberty's Centennial Gala: The All-Star Finale" because "people keep asking, 'Is this the end?' "

--While the Statue of Liberty has a birthday in New York, back in her home country, France, another international figure is celebrating a milestone. President Francois Mitterrand marked his 70th birthday Sunday, and he is keeping France guessing about whether he will retire or stand for a second seven-year term. Mitterrand still appears to be in robust health, and opinion polls show that the man who became France's youngest minister in 1947 could easily win reelection as president in 1988. No special events were planned for the Mitterrand birthday, although he acknowledged that he has reached a "respectable age. A man can announce before he is 70 that he is going to stand again for president. After that, it is much more difficult," he said.

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