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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, March 06, 2018 @ 2:44 PM
ARLINGTON, Texas — Looking to brighten their kids’ days, a group of parents at Mary Moore Elementary School in Arlington got together and painted uplifting messages in the school’s bathrooms, KENS5 reports.
Colorful flowers and motivational sayings now decorate the bathroom stalls, saying things like “Your mistakes don’t define you” and “Every day is a chance to be better.”
The school posted pictures of the parents’ work to Facebook.
Published: Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 8:03 AM
PARKLAND, Fla. — Law enforcement officials are scheduled to give an update of their investigation into a deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.
The update is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday near the school in Parkland, Florida, an affluent town in northwest Broward County, about 15 miles from Boca Raton.
The suspected gunman, Nikolas Jacob Cruz, 19, had been a student there recently “but was expelled from the school the previous year,” the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said.
Cruz was booked into the Broward County jail and is facing 17 counts of premeditated murder.
At 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, he was expected to make his first appearance before a judge later Thursday morning in Broward County court.
Police said Cruz concealed himself in the crowd and was among those running out of the school after the shooting. He was captured about 2 miles away near a swimming pool in the Wyndham Lakes community across the Sawgrass Expressway from the school.
A day after 17 people lost their lives in a storm of bullets at a South Florida high school, police are still trying to piece together what happened.
The investigation of the high school massacre on Valentine’s Day stretches throughout the state, including one city in Palm Beach County.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office; the Broward County Sheriff’s Office; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and FBI are investigating a mobile home south of Lantana Road and off Congress Avenue.
Irving Beck, who lives in Lantana Cascade Mobile Home Park, said he got home around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and law enforcement was already at the scene.
He said authorities told him it was some kind of explosive at one of the residences.
Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 12:11 AM
DULUTH, Minn. — Students taking English classes in a Minnesota city will no longer have to read two American classics or write reports about them, the Duluth News Tribune reported.
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which contain racial slurs, will no longer be required reading for students in the Duluth Public School district’s English classes next fall. However, the books are not banned: They will be available in the school as optional reading for students, the News Tribune reported.
The decision comes two months after a Virginia school temporarily banned the two novels after a parent complained that her high school-age son was negatively impacted by the books’ racial slurs. In October, the school board in Biloxi, Mississippi, removed “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which won a Pulitzer Prize for author Harper Lee, from the curriculum of an eighth-grade class, the Sun Herald reported. The school, however, reversed is decision in late October, but required students to get a permission slip from their parents in order to participate in the class, the Sun Herald reported.
In Minnesota, school officials said the decision to remove the two novels was in response to concerns from students and parents.
“The feedback that we’ve received is that it makes many students feel uncomfortable,” Michael Cary, director of curriculum and instruction for the Duluth Public School district, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Conversations about race are an important topic, and we want to make sure we address those conversations in a way that works well for all of our students.”
Cary told the News Tribune that district leaders believed other literary options could impart the same lessons as the two novels.
"We felt that we could still teach the same standards and expectations through other novels that didn't require students to feel humiliated or marginalized by the use of racial slurs," he said.
Stephan Witherspoon, president of the Duluth chapter of the NAACP, called the move “long overdue, like 20 years overdue,” he told the News Tribune.
The literature has “oppressive language for our kids” Witherspoon told the Star Tribune. “Our kids don’t need to read the ‘N’ word in school. They deal with that every day out in the community and in their life. Racism still exists in a very big way.”
Witherspoon told the News Tribune that it was wrong to include the books in Duluth’s curriculum.
“There are a lot more authors out there with better literature that can do the same thing that does not degrade our people,” Witherspoon said.
Cary said Duluth’s teachers will play a key role in selecting new texts for students to read.
Published: Saturday, January 27, 2018 @ 10:34 AM
KEY LARGO, Fla. — A Florida couple surveying damage after Hurricane Irma last September found a message in a bottle, sent more than three decades ago by a class of children in Scotland, FlKeysNews reported.
On Sept. 29 last year, Ruth and Lee Huenniger were walking near their Key Largo home, inspecting street lamps. Ruth found a plastic bottle lying near a chain link fence and noticed there was a note inside.
“We are learning all about pirates. We would like to see how far this message goes. Please write and tell us where you found this bottle,” the note said.
The note was signed by Class 2/3, Chapelpark School, Forfar, Angus, Scotland, FlKeysNews reported.
The Huennigers decided to write back to the school, whose class sent the bottle hurtling into the North Sea in the 1980s, WSVN reported.
“I thought, ‘Let’s see if this gets all the way back to Scotland,'” Ruth Huenniger told WSVN. “I mean, I’d never heard of Forfar.”
“Your message was found in Key Largo, Florida, USA, on Sept. 29, 2017,” the new note read. “Hope this was a fun experience for your class.”
This time, the note was sent through the mail. On Oct. 23, the Huenningers received a letter from Fiona Cargill in Scotland. The retired teacher said her class had written the note sometime in the 1980s, FlKeysNews reported.
“We forgot to put a date on the letter, but would you believe it, that bottle was sent on its journey more than 30 years ago,” Cargill wrote. “The pupils who took part in this will now be in their mid-thirties!”
Chapelpark Primary School closed in 2008 and is now an apartment building. The postman who was given the Huennigers’ letter for his route knew this and delivered it to the town’s new school, Whitehills Primary, FlKeysNews reported.
“The staff did an investigation and discovered it was my class,” Cargill wrote. “I retired from there just over a year ago and was so, so excited about this wonderful true life story.”
Cargill said her class of children ages 6 to 8, had studied pirates and decided to send several bottles.
“They covered them with sticky plastic to keep them from getting wet, put them in bottles and then got a fisherman to put them in the North Sea,” said Cargill, who added there are at least three more bottles that were thrown into the ocean.