Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mystery cat closes elementary school

An elementary school was closed after a cat, reportedly without a pass, was found in a classroom Friday:

While preparing for her students’ arrival, a teacher at Richard Henry Lee Elementary School in Glen Burnie found a cat in her classroom about 7:30 a.m, a school system spokesman said. It had no pass, no owner to vouch for it and no other authorization.

School officials were notified, but the cat did not wait, darting away as such animals often do.

As students waited outside, animal control personnel arrived and searched the school, where classes for more than 480 students are set to start at 8:45 a.m.

They never did start. After an initial search found nothing, students were dismissed at 9:45 a.m., said Bob Mosier, the school system spokesman.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Charter school to cut recess to shorten day

A Maryland charter school has decided to cut recess to shorten its day:

The county’s Board of Education approved the change at College Park Academy by a vote of 12-0, with one member abstaining and another absent. Frank Brewer, interim executive director of the academy, which is a middle school that has ties to the University of Maryland in College Park, said teachers suggested the move.

“It was our teachers who noted that our students were really tired by the end of the day,” Brewer said. “We had a longer day than most middle schools. Getting rid of recess was the way to shorten the day without affecting instructional time.”

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Four-year-old expelled from pre-school over mom's Facebook post

Teacher arrested for child pornography on first day of school

A  fifth grade teacher was arrested on the first day of classes at his Chicago area school on a federal child pornography charge:

John Vastis, 51 — a teacher at Meridian Middle School in Buffalo Grove — allegedly coaxed a 16-year-old boy into taking pornographic pictures and videos of himself and sending them to him over the Internet.

The boy was not a student of Vastis’s, and prosecutors say there are no allegations that he sexually exploited any students.

Known as “Pete,” Vastis allegedly met his now 17-year-old accuser a year ago on Skype. Computer records show he had more than 3,200 lines of chat messages with the boy, who was suspected of possessing and distributing child pornography, a criminal complaint alleges.

The boy identified Vastis after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations team lead a raid on the boy’s home on Aug. 15, the complaint states.

Teacher who tweeted she wanted to stab students given reprimand

A California teacher who tweeted that she wanted to stab students has been issued a reprimand.

Among the things, the teacher tweeted:

"I already want to stab some kids. Is that bad? 19 more days," Hodges tweeted on June 23, under the name Mrs. Hodges and the handle @kree49.

"I am getting Starbucks for sure before school tomorrow. That way I'll be refreshed AND have something to dump on the little a-holes," said another June 23 tweet.

"So happy to be done w/school for 10 days, but especially to be away from the ones who truly try my patience & make my trigger finger itchy," she tweeted on April 24.

"The problem w/teaching summer school is I'm gonna get all the (expletive) who failed my class, 2 of whom I wish would get hit by a car," she offered on May 5.

Krista Hodges acknowledged in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News that she had behaved "unprofessionally," but added, "Everyone knows I'm one of the most liked teachers on campus. And that's because I form meaningful and long-lasting relationships with my students."

Audit: Los Angeles schools can't account for $2 million worth of computers

The Los Angeles Unified School District can't account for $2 million worth of computers, mostly iPads, and the figure might be much higher.

L.A. Unified spent about $67 million from July 2011 through June 2013 to purchase 70,000 computers and mobile devices from Apple and Arey Jones, a vendor.

The totals in the audit are estimates because, the report said, "we were unable to determine the exact number of computers and mobile devices purchased through the master contracts for the period under review because the information needed was incomplete, inaccurate, or unavailable."

The audit found campuses that had a surplus of devices and schools with no effective system to track who had a computer or who was responsible for it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Atheist group protests preacher leading teachers during meeting

An atheists' group is protesting the decision by a public school in Jackson, Mississippi, to have a preacher address a gathering of teachers:

The August 12 meeting, said to be required for teachers, purportedly included a prayer that referenced Christian themes and an address that included Bible scripture.

In addition to the preacher, other speakers also allegedly mentioned faith elements during their addresses as well, according to a press release distributed by the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

“The Reverend began his sermon by asking the entire faculty to ‘shut your eyes please’ and pray,” the letter reads. “Following that was a series of ‘call and responses’ where he would ask the teachers, ‘please say amen to that,’ to which they would respond, ‘amen!’”

It continued, “Nearly every speaker at this three-hour event engaged in some form of religious preaching, recitation of Bible verses, and invocation to ‘Lord’ and ‘God.’ The event was best described by our client as ‘one long church service.’”

Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, called the inclusion of Christian themes “shocking,” with the organization claiming that these elements infringed upon the rights of nontheistic teachers.

High school students stage sit-in to protest mismanagement

Los Angeles high school students staged a sit-in to protest mismanagement that kept some students from being able to take the classes they need to graduate:

Students gathered in the quad after first period, sitting in a grassy area in a silent protest of what they contend has been weeks of mismanagement by administrators that has wasted their time and severely interrupted their education.

For the first weeks of school, many students were left without class schedules, others were given courses they did not need and some were without those required for graduation, students and teachers said.

Several Advanced Placement courses were scheduled at the same time, leaving students unable to enroll in all the college-level courses they desired. Students still learning English were unable to enroll in courses at their level, as they were scheduled during the same periods.

Problems were apparently intensified by a new computer database, known as the My Integrated Student Information System, which caused a litany of scheduling problems around the district in the first weeks of school.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sixth grade teacher suspended for re-enacting Michael Brown shooting

An Alabama sixth grade teacher has been suspended after a classroom assignment re-enacting the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson:

A parent posted on a community Facebook page that her son came home from Brantley Elementary School and said the teacher “made them reenact” the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, and that “the white students had to play the police officer.”

“She even has them get on the Internet and research how many times the young man was shot where he was shot at,” Jessica Baughn posted. “That is absurd to me then you turn around and make them reenact every bit of it including the shooting…Then sit in class and tells them our black children can not walk in their own neighborhood without white people shooting them and she hated to sound racist but whatever.”

Dallas County Schools Superintendent of Education Don Willingham told the Times-Journal he interviewed the school’s principal and the teacher and said the teacher had been doing a lesson on current events when someone brought up the Missouri shooting. He told the newspaper the class performed a “skit” about it, but didn’t say whose idea it was or what it involved.ael

School Board authorizes security to use semiautomatic weapons

The school board in Compton, California, has authorized its security personnel to use semiautomatic weapons:

According to a new school board policy, the weapons are to be used “in response to situations that clearly evidence a need or potential need for superior firepower to be used against armed suspects.” And: “Only those situations where the circumstances at hand are beyond the capabilities of the standard patrol sidearms (e.g., Long distances, suspects utilizing body armor, and/ or high powered, high capacity weapons) should be considered.”

Police said the heavy firepower was necessary.

“This is our objective — save lives, bottom line,” said Compton Unified School District Police Chief William Wu.

Though the National Rifle Association called for “a good guy with a gun” in every school after the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, Wu said not just any gun would do.

“Handguns you’d be lucky to hit accurately at 25 yards,” Wu told KPCC. “With a rifle in the hands of a trained person, you can be go 50, 100 yards accurately.” Five percent of school shooters have worn body armor, he noted.

Some in the community weren’t enthusiastic.

New NEA President: We will not be silent about high stakes testing