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Published: Thursday, September 07, 2017 @ 11:50 AM
Updated: Thursday, September 07, 2017 @ 11:19 AM
CRESTON, Iowa — A group of Iowa high school students have been disciplined after a photo made the rounds on social media depicting them wearing white hoods and burning a cross in a field.
The photo shows five young men, all wearing what appear to be white pillowcases fashioned into KKK-style hoods. One of the people in the picture holds a rifle and another waves what appears to be a Confederate flag.
A makeshift cross burns in the background of the photo, which caused shock and consternation on social media.
The Des Moines Register reported that Creston Community High School officials learned about the photo Wednesday morning. An investigation by the administration determined some of the school’s students were involved in the incident.
Jeff Bevins, the school’s athletic director and assistant principal, declined to detail the discipline handed down to the students, who are minors, the Register said. Bevins did speak out about the behavior depicted in the photo.
“That picture does not represent the beliefs of our school system, our parents, or our community,” Bevins told the newspaper.
School officials have also spoken to other students at the school to ensure that they feel safe coming to school. Principal Bill Messerole told the Register that many students were upset by the photo.
“This certainly isn’t an issue that you just forget and move on,” Messerole said. “We want to make sure that it’s OK to have a dialogue about this.”
Messerole said that the students know the picture is not an accurate representation of what the school, or the community, stands for.
One Creston High football player anonymously reached out to WHO Channel 13 in Des Moines to defend his teammates, indicating that at least some of the students involved were football players.
“As a current student at Creston and a member of the football team, I would just like to make a statement,” the teen’s statement read. “The five individuals that were involved with the picture are clearly in the wrong, and they will face the consequences eventually. But I can promise everyone that as a whole, our football team and community aren't about that. The actions made by a small group shouldn't represent the entire football team and community. I'm proud to be a part of what this team is actually about, and it's sad to see something like this ruin a rich tradition we carry.”
There was a similar reaction from some on Facebook, where at least one man defended the school and the community.
“I saw some comments that are calling the entire school and community racist, (and) I take issue with that,” Allen Bean wrote. “Having had the opportunity to do some volunteer work at Creston High School on several occasions, I saw firsthand the love and care they have for all students. I condemn those that are involved and think they deserve severe punishment, but let’s be careful labeling this school and its community.”
In the meantime, a Drake University law professor told the Register that he believes school officials overreached in their discipline of the students.
“This is a significant free speech issue,” Mark Kende told the newspaper. “If they’re off school grounds and they’re doing it in their free time and they’re not targeting someone in school, then this is a form of expressive speech.”
Kende explained that, according to Iowa law, hate speech is only a criminal offense if it specifically targets someone.
The professor told the Register that the students, if involved in extracurricular activities, may have been required to sign statements saying they would refrain from behavior that would reflect poorly on them and the school. The Constitution’s guarantee of free speech could override those statements, however.
Published: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 1:10 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Some Ohio lawmakers want elementary school students to be able to print letters by the third grade and write documents in “legible cursive handwriting” by the time they finish fifth grade. The Ohio House could vote Dec. 5 on a bill to require a return of teaching cursive writing
In February, Ohio House Education Committee Chairman Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, introduced a bill to mandate that kindergarteners through fifth-graders be instructed in handwriting.
Schools have dialed back handwriting instruction to make more time for core academic requirements, such as helping struggling readers in first through third grades.
Cursive instruction is included in the state’s “model curriculum” for grades 3 and 4 and the State Board of Education passed a resolution in early 2014 in support of teaching cursive. But it isn’t a hard-and-fast requirement.
Published: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 3:06 PM
FLORENCE, Texas — Police are investigating reports that two substitute teachers at a Texas middle school caused children to injure their hands Thursday by forcing them to crawl on an asphalt track during a physical education class, said Florence Police Chief Adam Marsh.
Charges have not been filed, Marsh told the Austin American-Statesman.
Marsh said he has seen blistering and bruising on the hands of four children, who were in a sixth-grade class at Florence Middle School. He declined to release the names of the two teachers being investigated.
Marsh said two sets of parents filed complaints with the police at 6 p.m. Thursday saying their children were forced to do bear crawls around the track. A bear crawl is done on the hands and feet without the knees touching the ground. The exercise is used for endurance and strength-building, Marsh said.
Police are continuing to investigate the case, which involves many children, he said. They will submit their findings to the Williamson County District Attorney’s office to see if charges should be filed, Marsh said. He said Child Protective Services also is involved in the investigation.
He declined to comment further on the case.
Lisa Block, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said the state agency is working with the police to investigate the incident.
One of the parents who filed a complaint with police, Nancy Gonzalez, spoke through an interpreter during a phone interview with the Austin American-Statesman Thursday.
Gonzalez said that when she picked up her 11-year-old daughter from school Thursday, her daughter had bruised hands. Gonzalez said her daughter told her that two substitute teachers forced her and her class to run and do bear crawls for half an hour around an asphalt track as punishment for what another student had done.
Gonzalez said she was “horrified” to see her child’s injuries and went to the school office to talk to someone, but that an official there wouldn’t talk to her.
Florence School District Superintendent Paul Michalewicz said Friday school officials are cooperating with police and also are conducting their own investigation. He declined further comment.
Published: Thursday, November 16, 2017 @ 1:24 AM
AUSTIN, Texas — 4 p.m. CST Wednesday: Several students who walked out of Fulmore Middle School in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday told the Austin American-Statesman they were protesting because a teacher in a Social and Emotional Learning class told a student, who was speaking Spanish at the time, to “go back to Mexico.”
The teacher made the statement about two weeks ago, according to students who were in her classroom at the time, and some Fulmore students felt that administrators did not adequately address what this teacher said.
In a letter to the school’s community, Fulmore Principal Lisa Bush acknowledged that "an adult staff member made an insensitive statement to a student. Comments such as that are not tolerated at any level and appropriate actions were taken."
Bush’s letter did not specify what was said nor what action was taken.
Multiple students said the school building was damaged during the protest. Students mentioned a window was broken, part of a fence was knocked down and a ceiling tile in a hallway was punched.
At least one school board member commented on the situation.
“I am confident the superintendent and his team are gathering the facts and responding appropriately,” said school board member Geronimo Rodriguez, who represents South Austin. “I expect a quick response. This is a teachable moment for our diverse community regarding our culture of treating people with dignity and respect.”
ORIGINAL STORY: A group of students walked out of the Fulmore Middle School building as part of a protest Wednesday, according to school officials.
School officials said students are now back in their classrooms.
They’re walking the halls, chanting “Say it loud. Say it clear. Refugees are welcome here!”— marissa (@MarissaElayne) November 15, 2017
(Video sent to me by niece, a student there) pic.twitter.com/WwHWn5b2bh
Published: Saturday, November 11, 2017 @ 1:46 PM
RENTON, Wash. — A senior at a high school in Washington state is upset about a video featuring her classmates that she says mocks slavery.
Michelle Boyd told KIRO7 she recorded the video this week at Lindbergh High School. For a school project, students performed a song during which they changed the lyrics to a well-known nursery rhyme.
"Old MacDonald had a slave," the students sang. "E-I-E-I-O. And with that slave he worked all day. E-I-E-I-O."
Boyd explained why she found the video offensive. "I mean I don't think it was necessary for them to make a mockery out of it. Because people did die in slavery. They were raped and beaten and stuff like that. I don't think that is a joke at all," she said.
Boyd confronted the students, but she claims they told her that the teacher gave them permission to perform the song.
Boyd showed the video to her mother, Charrita Tatum, who posted it on Facebook.
Tatum said she learned almost immediately she wasn't the only one who found the video offensive.
"Anytime there's a question, it should have just been nipped in the bud," Tatum said. "I do feel like the teacher's judgment call on this was absolutely incorrect."
"It's disturbing," Renton school district spokesman Randy Matheson told KIRO7. "It's inappropriate and it needs answers."
Matheson says with school out for Veterans Day, the teacher will have to answer for this Monday.
"A teacher should certainly know that checking with students to find out if it's OK is not the way you go about making sure something is appropriate in the classroom," Matheson said.
Michelle and her mother say they want the district to talk to the teacher and the students, three of whom are African-American, to make sure this doesn't happen again at Lindbergh or any other school.