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University of Florida denies request for white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak

The University of Florida on Wednesday announced that it has denied a request for AltRight.com co-editor and outspoken white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus next month.

>> Read more trending news

Kent Fuchs, president of the university, said last week that the National Policy Institute, which is led by Spencer, contacted officials to reserve space for an event on campus. The event was expected to feature Spencer as a guest speaker. 

But following violent, racially-charged unrest over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, Fuchs said the university denied the National Policy Institute’s request, citing public safety concerns.

>> Related: ‘Alt-right’ activist Richard Spencer plans visit to University of Florida

“This decision was made after assessing potential risks with campus, community, state and federal law enforcement officials following violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, and continued calls online and in social media for similar violence in Gainesville, such as those decreeing: ‘The Next Battlefield is in Florida,’” Fuchs said.

School regulations allow non-university groups, organizations and people to rent space on campus, although the groups are expected to cover rental expenses and security costs.

Fuchs said no student or university-affiliated groups were sponsoring the event.

“I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for,” Fuchs said. He added that the university is dedicated to free speech, but added that “the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others.”

>> Related: White nationalist rally at A&M canceled, Texas lawmaker says

“The likelihood of violence and potential injury – not the words or ideas – has caused us to take this action,” Fuchs said.

Protests in Charlottesville took a violent turn over the weekend when crowds gathered for a rally organized by white supremacists and aimed at protesting the removal of a Confederate memorial from the city’s Emancipation Park clashed with counterprotesters demonstrating against white supremacism.

>> Related: Trump again blames ‘both sides’ for violence in Charlottesville

The protests left several injured and a 32-year-old woman dead.

Police said a car driven by James Alex Fields Jr., 20, slammed into two other vehicles and counterprotesters on Saturday, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Fields, of Ohio, faces charges including second-degree murder and malicious wounding.

Former middle school PE teacher accused of molesting student

A former Union County, Georgia, middle school physical education teacher was arrested on child molestation and sexual assault charges, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Monday.

>> Teacher accused of sex with student, having child with him 

Shawnetta D. Reece, 40, of Blairsville, allegedly was sexually involved with a 15-year-old student in 2013, according to a news release.

>> Alabama's teacher-student sex law is unconstitutional, judge rules

"The student was moving from the eighth grade into the ninth grade during this time," the news release said.

The GBI joined the Union County Sheriff’s Office investigation after recently learning of the alleged relationship

>> Read more trending news

Upon completion of the investigation, the case will be provided to the Enotah Judicial Circuit District Attorney for prosecution. 

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Teacher accused of sex with student, having child with him

A former Ohio schoolteacher is accused of having a sexual relationship with a student over a three-year period.

>> Watch the news report here

And according to an interview conducted with the boy’s father by WEWS-TV in Cleveland, the boy and teacher had a baby together.

>> Ex-'teacher of the year' gets 10 years in prison for hosting teen sex parties

Laura Lynn Cross, 36, has been indicted on three counts of sexual battery over a period allegedly spanning from Aug. 1, 2013, through Sept. 6, 2016. She was a teacher at Buchtel High School in Tallmadge, Ohio, just outside Akron.

>> Woman, 38, sentenced to prison time for sex with teen boys

The boy’s father told WEWS that he first went to Buchtel High School officials and Tallmadge police about the teacher in 2012, when his son was a freshman. But he said no charges were filed.

>> Teacher convicted of sex with student sues him for damaging her reputation

“First of all, she’s a schoolteacher,” the boy’s father said. “To get aroused by a child, basically, you have to be a sick individual.”

Cross quit teaching at the school in January 2015.

>> Florida teacher accused of sexually abusing, grooming 8 students

WEWS reported that Cross apparently convinced the boy’s mother, who had custody of her son, to allow the teen to move in with Cross through a court-approved “partial parental custody” arrangement. She reportedly convinced the mother that she could “mentor” the boy.

>> Teacher pleads guilty to sexual abuse of female student

Charges weren’t filed, however, until police learned that Cross and the boy allegedly had a baby together in 2015, WEWS reported. The boy’s father knew nothing about that until a tipster phoned him and asked him if he knew he was a grandfather, he said in the WEWS interview.

>> Alabama's teacher-student sex law is unconstitutional, judge rules

“It was a straight failure from the system,” said the boy’s father said. “From the school and … definitely [from the police].”

>> Read more trending news

An Akron School System spokesperson said the district was unaware of the case until a WEWS investigation alerted them, but said officials are now “doing [their] own internal investigation going back to 2012 to determine what exactly happened and when it happened.”

Cross has been jailed, and her bond has been set at $100,000.

School under fire after PTSA offers students ‘front of lunch line’ passes for $100

Students and parents in Lakeland, Florida, were gearing up for another school year when they received a letter from Lawton Chiles Middle Academy saying that for $100, students would be able to skip the lunch line. Some parents were outraged at the letter and felt that it was promoting elitism.

>> Watch the news report here

The letter asked for donations from the families, but the school claims that it was a mistake and never meant to be sent out. Principal Brian Andrews told WBRC, “Nobody’s a second-class citizen here. ... This definitely hits home for me, and I am very upset about it.”

>> Read more trending news

The Parent Teacher Student Association took the blame for the letter, saying that it was a “clerical error” and that no such program will be implemented this school year. They claimed that the piece was accidentally put in the orientation packets and noted that Andrews never signed off on the documents. In a statement to WFTS, the PTSA wrote:

>> Read more Floridoh! stories 

"This Family and Business Sponsorship program was explored but we decided not to implement. Due to a clerical error, the form was inadvertently included in the Orientation packets. Our families have been notified this program is not being offered."

According to the its Facebook page, Lawton Chiles Middle Academy is a public school.

Alabama's teacher-student sex law is unconstitutional, judge rules

Two Alabama teachers accused of having sex with students had their charges dismissed by a judge who declared the state’s teacher-student sex law unconstitutional.

>> Watch the news report here

Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson issued the ruling Thursday that, at least for now, will keep former Decatur High School teacher Carrie Witt and David Solomon, an ex-aide at Falkville High School, from facing charges.

>> Florida teacher accused of sexually abusing, grooming 8 students

According to AL.com, Witt, 44, was arrested in March 2016 when police said she had sex with two teenagers — one who was 17 and the other 18 — when they were her students at Decatur High School. Solomon, 27, was accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student.

>> Teacher pleads guilty to sexual abuse of female student

The law the judge has deemed unconstitutional prohibits any school employees from having sex with students who are younger than 19. Teachers or other school employees in violation of the law can be charged with a Class B felony that carries a punishment up to 20 years in prison. They must also register as sex offenders if convicted. Consent is not a defense.

>> Florida man, 73, banned from beaches for 'seeking his sugarbaby,' officials say

However, the law is harsher on teachers and school employees than other citizens, who do not face criminal prosecution for having sex with 16-year-olds. State prosecutors, AL.com reported, have argued the law is constitutional and designed to protect students.

>> Read more trending news

Read more here.

After backlash, school removes ban on hair braid extensions

A Massachusetts charter school that came under fire for what some students and parents considered a discriminatory policy banning hair braid extensions has quietly removed the rule.

Boston 25 News first reported on the issue when parents raised concerns about it earlier this year. 

The handbook for 2017-2018 at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School no longer bans hair extensions, hair that's more than 2 inches in thickness or height, or hair coloring.

>> Read more trending news

The attorney general's office in May told the school its dress code appears to violate laws against racial discrimination.

The issue came to light when the parents of twin 15-year-old black girls said their daughters were punished for wearing extensions, while white students hadn't been punished for violating of hairstyle regulations.

School administrators have said hair extensions and other banned styles were distracting to students.

The school's director and spokesperson didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Saturday.

Louisiana high school student arrested for allegedly punching safety officer

The first day of school at a Louisiana high school had a testy start Wednesday as a senior was arrested for allegedly punching a school safety officer multiple times, KLFY reported.

>> Read more trending news

The 17-year-old teen was arrested at Acadiana High School after he was sent to the front office for a dress code violation, Scott police Chief Chad Leger said. The boy’s hair was not a natural color, which prompted the violation, KLFY reported.

He was instructed to call a parent to take him home, and he was not going to be disciplined, officials said. The boy was told to eat lunch while waiting for his parent, but a teacher found him a few minutes later hiding in an unauthorized area of the school, Leger told KLFY.

When a school safety officer began to escort the student to the front office, the boy turned and punched the safety officer twice in the head. Leger said.

The teen was arrested and booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on charges of interference with the operations of an educational institution, disturbing the peace, resisting an officer with violence, and battery of a school teacher, KLFY reported.

School bus companies facing driver shortage nationwide

School has begun in several states, and many bus companies nationwide said they face a driver shortage, USA Today reported.

>> Read more trending news

Twenty-two percent called the shortage "severe," and 5 percent said they are "desperate" to find drivers, according to a School Bus Fleet magazine survey of the nation's 50 largest school bus operators, the York (Pa.) Daily Record reported.

The process of becoming a school bus driver requires at least 14 hours of classroom training, at least six hours of on-the-road training and passing numerous written exams and a driving test, the Daily Record reported.

Applicants must also pass a drug test and physical, criminal history checks by the FBI and Pennsylvania State Police, and a child abuse history check.

Starting pay at the 50 largest companies rose to $16.90 an hour in 2017, up from $16.24 in 2016, according to School Bus Fleet.

Low salaries and a schedule that requires working split morning and afternoon shifts are among the biggest challenges companies face.

"Those two issues can be a hurdle," Nicole Schlosser, School Bus Fleet's managing editor, told USA Today.

Ohio school district trains staff to shoot intruders

Intruders beware: Thirty-two teachers and staff in Ohio’s Mad River Local Schools are now armed and ready to kill.

>> Read more trending news 

When school gets back in session Monday, each school building will have a number of the trained staff members who are able to access hidden gun safes, the combinations of which are known exclusively to the individual staff member and the superintendent.

MORE: Mad River will give school staff access to guns

The district is the first in Montgomery County to assemble an “armed and trained response team,” said Superintendent Chad Wyen. But he said the district is part of an emerging trend.

“It’s way more prevalent than people realize,” Wyen said of the district’s decision to arm employees. “Sixty-three out of 88 counties in Ohio have a district with a response team.”

RELATED: New law to ban cellphone use while driving in Tenn. school zones

In southwest Ohio, Wyen has worked with Sidney City Schools, in Miami County, which has a similar plan. Wyen has also worked with Georgetown Exempted Village Schools, in Brown County, east of Cincinnati.

RELATED: Latest move in school safety? A panic button

Mad River Local Schools staff members interviewed to join the volunteer team, then attended one of two courses offering Ohio Peace Officer Training, which is the basic requirement for becoming a police officer. The team also trained at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office gun range.

So far, Wyen said, the response has been positive. He said only one parent has called him opposed to the plan.

Latest move in school safety? A panic button

Getting police and first responders to help students and staff is now more efficient than ever in one Georgia school district.

>> Read more trending news 

Schools in Gwinnett County, Georgia, are now equipped with panic buttons and safety protocol.

Parents told WSB-TV they are on board with the new system.

“Maybe quicker response and quicker timing would save lives,” parent Stece Condra said.

Condra is the parent of a student at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia.

He is learning about the new emergency notification buttons that have been installed in each Gwinnett County public school.

Condra said he is glad school officials are being proactive.

“Hopefully they put it in and never have to use it. That's the best bet,” Condra said.

Officials started to put the program in place two years ago, beginning with panic buttons installed in elementary schools.

Now they're in every school in the district, just in time for the first week of school.

School resource officers like Joe Barnes at Peachtree Ridge High School will now have immediate backup if an intruder gets in.

“To know that help is on the way as soon as someone presses that button is a nice feeling,” Barnes said.

The system puts the school on immediate lockdown and sends alerts to school police dispatch and the county's 911 center.

It is all in real-time because dispatchers will be looking at live camera feeds.

“The school staff is being trained to push it when there is a life-threatening emergency, such as an active shooter,” Barnes said.

The security measure is a significant topic of discussion as school officials across the country consider the best ways to keep students safe. According to a Feb. 2016 ABC News report, each week, on average, one shooting took place on a school or college campus in 2015. The report showed a total of 270 shootings of any kind at a school between April 1999, when the infamous Columbine shooting occurred, and February 2016.

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