Substitute teachers accused of forcing students to crawl on asphalt track as punishment

Published: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 3:06 PM

The hands of one of the children allegedly injured during a physical education class in Florence, Texas.
Courtesy of Nancy Gonzalez
The hands of one of the children allegedly injured during a physical education class in Florence, Texas.(Courtesy of Nancy Gonzalez)

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.

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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.

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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.

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Parents paint uplifting messages on bathroom stalls at Texas elementary school

Published: Tuesday, March 06, 2018 @ 2:44 PM

FILE PHOTO
Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images
FILE PHOTO(Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

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

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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.” 

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The school posted pictures of the parents’ work to Facebook

The Facebook post has since been shared nearly 158,000 times and garnered nearly 6,000 comments. 

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Florida school shooting: Probe focuses on gunman's motives, victims' lives

Published: Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 8:03 AM

WATCH: Survivors Recount Florida High School Shooting

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.

>> LIVE UPDATES: Florida school shooting suspect charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder

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.

>> Florida school shooting: Football coach shot, killed while protecting students hailed as hero

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.

Individuals with information are encouraged to call the FBI tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI or visit www.FBI.gov/ParklandShooting.

>> PHOTOS: Shooting at high school in Parkland, Florida

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. 

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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.

Shooter Reportedly In Custody In Florida High School Shooting

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Minnesota school removes ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ from curriculum

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 12:11 AM

Minnesota School Removes ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ From Required Reading

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.

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“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.

>> Virginia schools ban books for racial slurs

“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.”

A racial slur appears 219 times in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” published in 1885 by Mark Twain; and 48 times in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” published in 1960.

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.

“We’re doing this out of consideration of the impacts on our students and specifically different groups of students in our schools, and especially our communities of color,” Cary told the Star Tribune.

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Florida couple find Scottish children’s message in a bottle from 1980s

Published: Saturday, January 27, 2018 @ 10:34 AM

Florida Couple Find A 30-Year-Old Message in a Bottle from Scotland

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.

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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.

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