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I remember one instance, a child -- 3rd grade or so -- had out a very  
over due book. When questioned, she said it was at the other parent's  
home (a common occurrence in these days with divorced parents) . She  
said when she switched homes the following week, she would retrieve  
it.   The book did come back the following week (in the book drop ) ,  
but smelled a bit funny, and was slightly damp...    I called the  
school nurse in to investigate (and confirm my suspicions) ... and  
yes, the book had been  urinated on.     I placed the book in a  
ziploc bag, and called the child out of class.   She said the cat   
was sick, and pee'd  on the book.   I gave her the lecture of taking  
responsibility, and telling me when something happens to the book,  
blah blah blah.   I called home to confirm the child's story, and it  
turns out the aging cat had a kidney infection and was relieving  
herself all over the house.   I sent the book home, in the ziploc  
bag, with a note requesting they end in a check to replace the book,  
and that they could keep the book, as I di not want it back in my  

  I generally follow my gut... if the child/parent is honest and  
remorseful, or sends me a note with the damaged book and offers to  
pay immediately  I may let some damage/loss go ... but when the child  
will not own up to the damage/loss, tries to hide/deny the loss/ 
damage, or if it is a popular or new book, then I bill the family for  
the replacement/repair costs.

I have a situation now of a student suddenly removed from the home  
and placed in foster care.  the student's books are at their original  
home, but the child has no access to them. I am continuing to let the  
child borrow one book at a time, and so far, all the books the child  
has borrowed since the change in residence have come back without a  
problem.   The missing books are several series paperbacks, so I'm  
letting it go.

Suzanne Ng, Librarian
South Mountain Elem. School
South Orange, NJ 07079

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