Substitute teacher kneels for pledge, sparks debate at school

Published: Saturday, September 30, 2017 @ 7:50 PM

File photo.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)(Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

A Littleton school is addressing parents and students after a substitute teacher knelt during the Pledge of Allegiance Thursday. 

According to a letter sent out from the Russell Street School’s principal, Scott Bazydlo, a substitute teacher knelt during the pledge. 

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"While this topic is timely and does have educational merit, it should be addressed sensitively and age-appropriately by permanent faculty and inclusive of the beliefs of all children and families,” Bayzdlo’s letter reads. 

The principal says students and parents brought the incident to the school’s attention, and the substitute teacher proceeded to talk to students about her political views. 

“The Littleton Public Schools respects the rights of all individuals to participate or respectfully abstain from participating in the Pledge of Allegiance,” the principal wrote. “However, in our roles as educators, it is imperative we provide students all sides of an issue like this and allow them to form opinions with guidance from parents.”

Bazydlo says the move was inappropriate, as the teacher is not a permanent member of the faculty and it was outside the plans of the classroom’s teacher. 

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VIDEO: Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz shown fighting students in 2016

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 1:59 AM

Parkland Shooter Nikolas Cruz Appears At Status Hearing

The man allegedly behind the fatal Florida high school shooting apparently has a disturbing past that is coming to light. A school fight that was captured on camera a little more than a year ago is the latest development.

>> Click here to watch

Authorities said 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Cruz was formerly a member of the school’s JROTC program before being expelled.

>> Florida school shooting: Teacher of the year's emotional Facebook post goes viral

A September 2016 video shared by ABC News shows Cruz wearing a white shirt and khakis while fighting with other students. Cruz was reportedly handed a two-day suspension following the incident.

>> Family who took in Nikolas Cruz: 'We just didn't know'

According to ABC, the fight was one of five documented incidents that caused school administrators to expel Cruz, mandating his transfer to another high school in February 2017.

>> WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech

Another incident that reportedly contributed to Cruz’s expulsion was his alleged fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Cruz was allegedly abusive toward her before they broke up.

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The massacre at the high school marked the 25th U.S. school shooting in which someone was killed since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.

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Gun shop owner raises age to buy a rifle to 21

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 8:07 PM

(KIRO7.com)
(KIRO7.com)

The owner of a Bellevue, Washington, gun shop is dealing with backlash and praise from all sides on what he calls a common-sense solution following the fatal school shooting in Parkland, Florida. 

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Jason Cazes, owner of lowpriceguns.com, now won’t sell an AR-15 or any long gun to anyone under age 21 unless they have military training.

“I woke up and it hit me,” Cazes said. “This Florida thing happened and the guy was 19.”

Cazes says the call to ban AR-15s won’t work and infringes on his rights. But he says he now believes anyone under 21 without military training isn’t mature enough to own one. He thinks his solution could work with the heated nationwide gun control debate. Neither side appears willing to budge.

>> Related: Who are the top 10 recipients of NRA money?

“Why am I the guy to do it, to offer the solution?” Cazes said. “I've been in the business 15 years. I've been in both sides politically. I lived in Louisiana for 20 years.”

His decision has led to a social media firestorm. He’s been getting strong pushback, but also praise from both sides. And that's exactly what brought gun owner Greg Meserve to Cazes’ gun shop for the first time on Tuesday.

“I support anyone who starts getting attacked for making common sense issues the norm,” Meserve said.

If you're buying any type of gun anywhere in the country, you have to fill out a federal form. And then your background check goes through the FBI database.

>> Related: Dallas Mayor pro tem tells NRA it can hold annual convention someplace else

In Washington state, you only have to fill out the state form if you're buying a handgun.

You don't have to fill out that form or do a state background check if you're buying any type of long gun like a shotgun or AR-15. That's part of what Cazes wants to change.

Cazes says given the support he’s gotten from both sides, he wants to push the idea forward. On Tuesday, he was lined up for multiple national interviews. And a Tacoma gun shop owner reached out to help.

>> Related: Nikolas Cruz is a ‘broken child’ who’s sorry about Parkland shooting, attorneys say

“He said ‘I have three master’s degrees and one is in criminal justice and I'll help you write the bill,’” Cazes said. “I said 'Thanks. Let's get on it.'”

Cazes stresses the idea is a compromise.

“Even if it helps 5 percent less people going crazy from people who aren't mature enough to handle these sort of weapons, then that's worth it,” he said. “But on the other side, I want my right to own this (AR-15) as an adult. That is my choice of what I want to defend myself and my family with.”

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George, Amal Clooney donate $500,000 to Parkland shooting survivors, Oprah Winfrey matches amount

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 6:32 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 6:32 PM

Parkland Shooting Victims Receive $500,000 Donation From George, Amal Clooney

Nearly a week after the Valentine’s Day shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school, George and Amal Clooney have announced they will participate in The March For Our Lives on March 24 and have donated $500,000 to the group.

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The celebrity couple made the announcement in a statement from George Clooney. People reported the donation was made in the name of the couple’s 8-month-old twins Ella and Alexander.

“Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School,” Clooney said in a statement. “Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we’re donating $500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event. Our children’s lives depend on it.”

Related: Gabrielle Union, Kim Kardashian, more celebs call for gun control after Florida school shooting

On Tuesday afternoon, Oprah Winfrey said she is “joining forces” with George and Amal Clooney indicating that she will match their donation:

“George and Amal, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am joining forces with you and will match your $500,000 donation to ‘March For Our Lives.’ These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard.”

The March for Our Lives event was announced by Students David Hogg, Alex Wind, Cameron Kasky, Jacqueline Coren and Emma Gonzalez, five survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. On Feb. 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at the school, killing 17 people.

Related: Florida school shooting timeline: Seven minutes, three floors and 17 dead

Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

The March For Our Lives march will be in Washington, D.C. According to the group’s website, “the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end this epidemic of mass school shootings.”

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JROTC cadet who died saving fellow students posthumously admitted to West Point

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 5:02 PM

Peter Wang, 15, was posthumously admitted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on the day of his funeral, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. Wang, a JROTC member killed in a Valentine's Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, died holding a door open so several of his fellow students could escape.
Photos courtesy of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point
Peter Wang, 15, was posthumously admitted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on the day of his funeral, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. Wang, a JROTC member killed in a Valentine's Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, died holding a door open so several of his fellow students could escape.(Photos courtesy of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point)

A 15-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School freshman who, dressed in his JROTC uniform, died while holding a door open so his fellow classmates could escape a gunman with an assault rifle, has been posthumously admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

One of Peter Wang’s life goals was to attend West Point. Though that dream died on Feb. 14 with Wang and 16 of his classmates and teachers, officials at West Point offered him admission to the prestigious program on Tuesday, the day of his funeral. 

Officials took to West Point’s Facebook page to honor Wang, who they said lost his life in service to others.

“The U.S. Military Academy honors Peter Wang with an honorary admission for his bravery and selflessness,” the post read. “One of West Point's priorities is to develop leaders of character who are committed to the values of duty, honor, and country. Peter Wang's actions on February 14th are an example of those very principles and for this reason, the academy honors his dream of being a West Point cadet with a 2025 letter of acceptance.”

Jason Wang, center, holds a picture of his brother Peter, along with his younger brother, Alex, after his brother's funeral Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2018, at Kraeer Funeral Home in Coral Springs, Fla. Peter Wang, 15, was one of 17 people killed in a Valentine's Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.((Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP))

“It was an appropriate way for USMA to honor this brave young man,” an official statement from West Point’s public affairs office stated. “West Point has given posthumous offers of admissions in very rare instances for those candidates or potential candidates whose actions exemplified the tenets of duty, honor and country.”

The statement also offered the officials’ deepest condolences to Wang’s family and the Stoneman Douglas community. 

Wang has also been awarded the JROTC Medal of Heroism, along with two of his fellow slain freshmen. The Miami Herald reported that Wang would be buried with the medal pinned to his chest.

“It’s my understanding that this is an open casket service and the family requested their son be buried in his JROTC uniform,” U.S. Army Cadet Command spokesman Michael Maddox told the Herald. “The JROTC heroism medal will be on his uniform, but a second ‘keepsake’ medal will be given to the family.”

Maddox told the newspaper that Alaina Petty’s family received her medal Monday at the 14-year-old’s funeral, held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Coral Springs. The family of Martin Duque, also 14, will be presented with his metal at his funeral on Saturday. 

Like Wang, Petty and Duque were members of Stoneman Douglas’s JROTC program.

JROTC.com indicates that the Medal of Heroism is a “U.S. military decoration given by the Department of the Army to a JROTC cadet who performs a heroic act.

“The achievement must be an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding that it clearly sets the individual apart from fellow students or from other persons in similar circumstances,” the website states. “The performance must have involved the acceptance of danger and extraordinary responsibilities, exemplifying praiseworthy fortitude and courage.”  

Maddox told the Herald that additional cadets at Stoneman Douglas may receive awards for courageous actions they took the day of the massacre. For example, junior Colton Haab and other cadets, upon hearing gunshots, ushered several dozen students into the JROTC room.

The cadets grabbed Kevlar sheets used for marksmanship practice and held them up in front of their terrified classmates to shield them from bullets.

“We took those sheets and we put them in front of everybody so they weren’t seen, because they were behind a solid object and the Kevlar would slow the bullet down,” Colton told CNN the day after the shooting. “I didn’t think it was going to stop it, but it would definitely slow it down to make it from a catastrophic to a lifesaving thing.”

The casket carrying the body of Alaina Petty, 14, is removed following her funeral Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, in Coral Springs, Fla. Petty, a JROTC member, was one of 17 people killed in a Valentine's Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.((AP Photo/Gerald Herbert))

“However, the immediate focus right now is on supporting the funerals with dignity and honor, so deserved by these cadets and their families,” Maddox told the Herald. 

Wang became one of the heroes in the shooting after witnesses reported that he held open doors for several other students to flee the gunfire coming from the AR-15 in the hands of accused gunman Nikolas Cruz. Cruz, 19, a former Stoneman Douglas student who was expelled last year, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. 

Wang’s friends and supporters established a White House petition seeking full military honors for his burial. By Tuesday afternoon, more than 66,000 people had signed the petition.

A petition must reach 100,000 signatures to get a response from the White House. 

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