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Colin Jeffery

Colin Jeffery

EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - The mother of a 7-year-old southern Illinois girl who authorities say was stabbed to death by an uncle made her first court appearance.

The Effingham Daily News reports 26-year-old Ciara DeRyke of Watson was granted a public defender Tuesday in Effingham County. She faces a misdemeanor obstruction count alleging she lied to authorities.

Authorities say DeRyke claimed to have last seen daughter Willow Long alive in their home the morning of Sept. 8. But the girl was already dead, her body found the next day near a river.

State's Attorney Bryan Kibler says DeRyke wasn't involved in the killing or efforts to conceal it. He alleges she lied to make her appear to be a better mother, covering up that she was out the night of the killing.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Supreme Court has again upheld a law requiring unaccredited school districts to pay for students who chose to attend elsewhere.

The court's unanimous decision Tuesday applies to the Kansas City School District and its suburban neighbors. A similar ruling earlier this year dealt with St. Louis area schools.

A 1993 Missouri law requires unaccredited school districts to cover the costs for students to attend nearby accredited schools.

Kansas City's school district has been unaccredited since 2012, but student transfers have been on hold because of the legal challenge.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an assertion that the student transfer law amounted to an unfunded mandate that violated the state constitution.

 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A major credit-rating house has taken a more positive outlook on Illinois debt than it has in years after last week's pension-reform vote.

Standard & Poor's affirmed its A- rating on state debt backed by general tax revenue Tuesday but revised its outlook from "negative" to "developing."

The ratings agency says "developing" means the rating could be raised or lowered in the next two years. Analyst Robin Prunty says the change is positive but risk remains because workers unions will likely sue over the pension law Gov. Pat Quinn signed Thursday.

The law reduces state workers' contributions to pensions but cuts their benefits in a 30-year plan to erase a $100 billion retirement-account deficit.

Quinn promised in a statement it would be the "first of many positive developments" for Illinois.

 

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