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10-year-old boy with autism arrested at school

Luanne Haygood, the mother of a 10-year-old boy with autism, is angry that her son was arrested earlier this month at his Florida school for allegedly punching and kicking his teacher six months ago. Okeechobee County school resource officers put the child in handcuffs at Okeechobee Achievement Academy, but Haygood said the school district isn’t properly equipped to deal with autistic children.

“He has autism. He doesn’t know what’s going on,” she can be heard saying in the video that she recorded of her son’s arrest. “He’s scared to death. He’s 10 years old.”

>> Watch Haygood's video here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised)

Haygood watched as her son was removed from his classroom for allegedly leaving a paraprofessional with scratches and other marks back in October. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant on allegations of felony battery on a school board authority.

“I was extremely angry. That I felt like this was a power play. I felt like this was a this is what you get. You can’t do anything about it. We’re going to arrest your son if he can’t abide by the rules,” Haygood told WFOR, adding that her son's disability is the reason behind his behavior. “To go and have him arrested on school grounds in front of other students, in front of personnel, during school hours – they could’ve come to my house at any time to tell me what was going on.”

>> Read more trending news

The boy reportedly spent one night in juvenile detention, according to the Washington Post. The child was then released on house arrest and is expected to appear in court next month.

Haygood said the incident would never have happened if the school had the proper services to address his disability.

“I want something done," she told WFOR. "I want other kids to not have to go through this.”

According to CNN, the school district released the following statement:

"It has been district procedure to invite students in to take the Florida Standards Assessment. The district would not invite someone to one of our campuses for the sole purpose to arrest.

"The district routinely assists students by providing services from our board certified behavioral analyst, licensed mental health counselors, school social workers, and psychologists. As a team, these individuals develop interventions, conduct assessments, and offer support both at school and in the home in order to assist students and families.

"The district is unable to provide specific information as to both current and past incidents regarding this or any other student due to educational laws and rules. It is our hope that we can continue to work with all families to help their students improve both behaviorally and academically."

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

Top 3 students at this school were homeless and they just got scholarships

Three high school seniors are being honored for their hard work with financial help for college, but there’s a unique twist to this story:

The top three students at Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta were all homeless at one point, according to the principal.

>> Read more trending news

Valedictorian Rebecca Schmitt, salutatorian Daniel Hamm and honorable mention Jakobi Horn have been just three of nearly 1,800 homeless students in metro Atlanta.

“With all the support that we have from our environment, our community, despite the financial hardship, you’re able to thrive if you really put your mind to it,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt said she was accepted into some of the top universities in the country.

“Spelman College, Georgia Tech, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University and Duke University,” she said.

The school system and a local grocery store, Kroger, presented the students with scholarships and gift cards at the STAR students and Teachers Awards Ceremony at the Georgia Power Auditorium. 

These students were selected at the end of the first semester of their senior year.

“It makes my day a lot brighter just to know they care for me and they care for my family,” Hamm said of the recognition from Kroger.

The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program honors Georgia’s outstanding high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development.

Schmitt, as valedictorian, received a $1,000 scholarship and a $250 Kroger gift card. Hamm and horn each received a $500 scholarship and a $100 Kroger gift card.

Son, mother to attend college together

A Texas teen will be the first in his family to attend college this fall, but he didn't want the streak to end with him.Damon Lewis encouraged his mother to attend college with him.Connie Lewis, 47, told WFAA that not attending college was one of her life's regrets. She served 20 years in the Army and since her discharge, has been working odd jobs to make ends meet.

>> Read more trending news

When Damon first suggested that his mother apply to college with him, she resisted, but she eventually relented. Both Connie and Damon were accepted to Bethany College in Kansas.Damon said he's proud of his mother for pursuing her dreams.

College professor who tweeted 'Trump must hang' on paid leave

Lars Maischak, 47, a history professor at California State University-Fresno, is facing administrative action after making a controversial tweet about President Donald Trump.

>> Read more trending news

“To save American democracy, Trump must hang. The sooner and the higher, the better,” he wrote on his now-deleted Twitter account back in February.

This week, the Fresno Bee reported that Maischak “agreed upon a voluntary leave of absence.” Maischak will be gone for the rest of the spring semester.

Fresno State President Joseph Castro explained the terms of his leave: “The agreement for the paid leave was reached in accordance with provisions in the collective bargaining agreement with the California Faculty Association, the union that represents all faculty. During his leave of absence, Dr. Maischak will no longer have a teaching role, but will be conducting research off campus.”

Maischak has since apologized for his words.

A substitute has taken over his classes for the remainder of the semester, and his case is currently under review.

Read more here.

Teacher writes rap songs to help students learn, sees huge difference in their performance

A teacher is engaging students by creating rap songs alongside her lesson plans.

“The old way of learning is out; it’s outdated,” teacher Kristin Chavis told KSLA.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Chavis is a ninth-grade biology teacher at Green Oaks High School in Shreveport, Louisiana. She noticed that her traditional lesson plans weren’t exciting her students.

Then she had an idea.

“All of a sudden one night, I started hearing ‘circulatory system, circula-circulatory system,'” said Chavis.

Since then, she has written rap songs into her lesson plan to help students learn the material quickly.

“It’s all repetitive; it’s all soaking in,” Chavis said.

And so far, her methods have been effective, engaging students like never before.

>> Read more trending news

“If I come in any other classes, I either go to sleep or I don’t listen and drown the teacher out,” said student Ebony Reliford. “But in Ms. Chavis’ class, she breaks it down for us to understand.”

Chavis shared her raps on her YouTube channel. Check some of them out below:

Study: First-graders have improved reading skills

First-graders have “significantly better reading skills” now than they did more than a decade ago, according to researchers.

>> Read more trending news

A 12-year study, conducted by Ohio State University, determined that students that began first grade in 2013 are learning in kindergarten what was taught in first grade in 2001, USA Today reported.

"Children are better prepared when they enter first grade than they used to be," Emily Rodgers, a professor of teaching at Ohio State University and study co-author, told USA Today. "Kindergarten is the new first grade when it comes to learning reading skills."

The study, conducted by Rodgers and Jerome D’Agostino, canvassed hundreds of thousands of new first-graders from schools in 44 states, testing them on basic and advanced literary skills. Test scores showed marked improvement, with low-performing students showing more skill in letter identification, word recognition, print awareness and identifying and using sounds, USA Today reported.

The authors said the improved reading could be traced to a pair of reports during the 2000s advocating changes in reading instruction, as well as former President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind law, an act that promoted skills tied to reading in preschool and elementary school, USA Today reported.

Officials: Man targets female students, asks to see their feet

Officials at a middle school in Albuquerque sent a home letter to parents Monday, warning of a man targeting female students walking home from bus stops.

The letter was sent by Hoover Middle School officials, according to KOAT.

>> Read more trending stories

The man, described as a Hispanic or white male in his 20s or 30s, is accused of approaching female students and asking to take photos of their feet. He's been seen multiple times in the neighborhood, at least twice driving a white car, and once while walking a dog.

No one has been harmed in the incidents, but the strange request has left students shaken.

School officials said that police are adding extra patrols in the neighborhood, but in the meantime, they discourage students from walking home alone.

Former Miss Montana under fire for tweets about her special-needs students

A former Miss Montana-turned-West Fargo, North Dakota, teacher whose winning platform was inclusive education for students with disabilities is under investigation for tweets about her special-needs students at Liberty Middle School – and their parents.

According to WDAY, Sheridan Tihista, formerly Sheridan Pope, is under fire after anonymous concerned parents printed out 20 pages of tweets from the teacher they deemed offensive.

>> Watch the news report here

In one tweet, Tihista reportedly referred to moms of children with autism as “monsters,” and in another she called the students “Satan.”

WDAY reported that another tweet said the best part of teaching children with autism is that her lesson plans never have to change because the kids “loooove routines!”

“I yelled at my student today and accidentally called him by my cat’s name…. not even ashamed bc that’s how annoying he was” and “I’m going to start a blog under a pseudonym called '[Expletive] My Students Say'” were also among the controversial tweets.

>> Read more trending news

Tihista’s Twitter account had been fully public but was made private after the complaints were lodged. Now the Twitter account is completely gone.

Although she declined to be interviewed, she did send a text to WDAY.

“My tweets may have been distasteful but don’t illustrate what kind of educator I am,” she wrote.

Interestingly, Tihista had been in the news before for being bullied out of a sorority.

Her conduct is currently under review and her future at the school uncertain.

Florida teacher fired over eyebrow-raising 'How comfortable am I?' assignment

A middle school teacher from Hernando County, Florida, is out of a job after a “How comfortable am I?” assignment came to light. The source of the assignment was a book called “Exploring White Privilege.”

The teacher at Fox Chapel Middle School gave students an assignment that asked them to circle a response of how comfortable they were with living in a predominantly black neighborhood, single moms on welfare, mothers “coming out” to their children, gay neighbors, being invited to a gay bar, having a Jewish roommate and more.

>> Watch the news report here

The response choices ranged from “Not Comfortable At All" to "Completely Comfortable.”

The teacher, identified as Daryl Cox by WTSP, has been fired.

The Hernando County School District said, “In no way does that assignment meet the standards of appropriate instructional material.”

Mothers and students speaking to WFTS condemned the assignment.

“‘How comfy are you if you see a group of black men walking to you on the street?’ That’s completely inappropriate. In no world, whatsoever, is that OK to question a child on,” mom Jennifer Block said.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

“I thought it was very inappropriate. I thought some of them were racist. I thought some of them were sexist. I thought it was completely intolerable,” sixth-grader Tori Drews added. “There were children that were saying this is wrong. ‘Why are we doing this?’ ‘Does this have a reason?’ She was going, 'Yeah this is kind of wrong ... maybe I should take it back.'”

Drews said the teacher immediately backtracked on the assignment and said, “No. Don’t show your mom.”

“Kids were asking if they could share it with their parents. She was like, ‘No. Don’t show your mom. Don’t take that home. I’m taking it back up,'” she said.

>> Read more trending news

The student said the assignment was part of her “Leader in Me” class, which was meant to teach about accepting the differences of people.

“I believe that it was very wrong what she did. That she didn’t ask anybody before she gave it out. But I think that maybe she should have been put on a break and had like another training on something like that,” Drews said.

As WTSP reported, the assignment’s source was a book called “Exploring White Privilege” written by Robert Amico, who gave the following comment on the story:

"There is a survey in the appendix of my book titled “How Comfortable Am I?” under 'Self-Assessment Exercises' that offers readers an opportunity to assess their comfort levels in a variety of possible situations that cover a range of issues, including race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, religion, and so forth. The results can direct readers to areas worth further exploration for personal growth. I hope this helps."

Cox has not responded to media requests for comment.

Parents outraged after 'animal pornography' video shown to elementary school students

Parents in one Kentucky county are upset that an inappropriate YouTube video was shown to their elementary school students.

Heather Prushing told WKYT that she considered the video to be "animal pornography." Her 11-year-old daughter saw the video, which was shown by a Spanish teacher.

>> Read more trending news

The controversial video is a low-budget production, featuring people in animal costumes walking down a  mock runway to music by the likes of The Doors and the Beastie Boys. In one scene, there is a simulated sexual act between a chicken and a cow. Spanish is spoken in some scenes.

>>Click here to watch video (viewer discretion advised)

The video was shown in several Spanish classrooms at two different schools over the last several days. Children told their parents about the video's content, which prompted calls to school officials. Brian Creasman, Fleming County Schools Superintendent, wrote a letter to parents, saying the video was not part of the approved curriculum and was not appropriate for elementary school children to watch. Creasman said an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

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