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Parents upset after teen with Asperger's arrested for altercation with teacher

The parents of a freshman at a Florida high school are questioning the way officials handled their son’s outburst.Ashton Gelfand, 14, was arrested Thursday after a physical altercation with a teacher at the school.

The teen has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and bipolar disorder, which can lead him to lash out, according to his father, Bryan Gelfand.

“All I see is red, like I want to either hurt something, or just break something,” Ashton Gelfand told WFTV, referring to those moments.

>> Read more trending stories

Bryan Gelfand said that West Orange High School officials were aware of the 14-year-old’s conditions, but things got out of hand when the boy got into an argument with a substitute teacher.

As the situation escalated, the school’s vice principal and school resource officer got involved, and it ultimately became physical, Bryan Gelfand said.

Ashton Gelfand was arrested and taken to the Orange County Juvenile Detention Center, where he made a frantic call to his parents.

“All he kept saying was, ‘I want to come home, I want to come home,’” Bryan Gelfand said. “And he’s just not comprehending that you can’t yet.”

The father doesn’t believe the situation warranted his son’s arrest, and is pushing for the charges to be dropped because he doesn’t feel like the school handled the situation the right way.

“To be 14 years old with Asperger’s, ADHD and puberty at the same time, he doesn’t deserve to have four misdemeanors and a felony,” Bryan Gelfand said.

WFTV reached out to Orange County Schools seeking comment on what the policy is for informing substitute teachers about students’ disabilities.

District officials said they were looking into the situation, but did not comment further.

Students find worm, moldy bread in school lunches

A school district in Pennsylvania has sent a letter home to parents addressing moldy bread and a worm that was found in students’ school lunches.

"After the corn ear worm was reported, this product was immediately pulled from all serving lines," Chartiers Valley School Superintendent Brian White said in the letter to parents.

The corn is a USDA product that is commonly provided to school districts. A complaint was filed with USDA provider, Bonduelle USA, Inc., and an investigation was conducted.

>> Read more trending stories 

The company’s response said in part:

"When we process the raw corn we employ multiple steps to eliminate such material from the raw agricultural product… Unfortunately, all these steps have not been 100 percent effective and we apologize for the occurrence."

The reportedly stale and moldy bread was disposed.

A new food-service director was appointed. 

Parent upset with kindergarten teacher who used Ouija board in class

A mother is upset after she says her son told her his kindergarten teacher at Zablocki Elementary School in Milwaukee used a Ouija board in the classroom.

WISN reported that the mother, who did not want to be publicly identified, wants the teacher fired and is asking Milwaukee Public Schools officials to do so.

>> Read more trending stories

"They were shutting off the lights and making it dark and talking to spirits," the mother told WISN. "That's not something that should be at school."

The Ouija board is a game that has a flat board with letters of the alphabet printed on it and numbers 0 -9. It was marketed as a talking board that Smithsonian magazine reported was associated with the belief that the game communicated messages from the dead to the living.

"The kids have been asking for a scary story and I got the board and moved the paper clip to answer some of their questions," the teacher said in an email to the mother. "They asked about scary characters in movies. I did not say there were spirits. It was all done in fun. I understand your concern. It was silly and I'm sorry. I will take the board home and this won't happen again," the teacher said.

The mother says her 5-year-old son is having nightmares because of the Ouija board.

"He's scared now to go to bed at night, to be in the dark, anything alone," she said.

Milwaukee Public Schools officials told WISN the matter is being investigated and the teacher has been removed from the classroom.

Betsy DeVos calls historically black colleges pioneers of school choice, sparks outrage

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sparked a social media firestorm Monday after she called historically black colleges "pioneers" in school choice, a move that critics said ignored the racial conflict that necessitated the schools.

>> Read more trending stories

"Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) … started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education," DeVos said in a statement. "They saw that the system wasn't working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution.

"HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice."

DeVos has long supported charters schools and school choice programs, which give students and parents an alternative to traditional public school education.

Her comments come as representatives from the nation's HBCUs meet this week with DeVos and lawmakers in Washington.

The statement appeared to run counter to information posted on the Department of Education's website which states that HBCUs stemmed from racial segregation in education.

"Prior to the time of their establishment, and for many years afterwards, blacks were generally denied admission to traditionally white institutions," according to the Department of Education. "As a result, HBCUs became the principle means for providing postsecondary education to black Americans."

Devos' comments were met with incredulity on social media.

Is this a joke? HBCUs exist because racist white folks wouldn't let black people into their school. We didn't have a "choice."— Brandon E. Patterson (@myblackmindd) February 28, 2017

HBCUs were pioneers in "school choice?"— Vann R. Newkirk II (@fivefifths) February 28, 2017

Secy Betsy DeVos appears ignorant of racial segregation in US. #HBCUs are byproduct of racism during Jim Crow era.— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) February 28, 2017

No, Sec. DeVos- the segregation and inequality that forced the establishment of HBCUs is not a model of "school choice."— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) February 28, 2017

President Donald Trump is expected on Tuesday to sign an executive order related to HBCUs. A senior White House official told The Associated Press that the order is aimed at prioritizing the White House Initiative and Historically Black Colleges and Universities by moving it from the Department of Education into the White House. 

Florida teacher to keep job after 'inappropriately' mentoring troubled student

Update: March 1

The Florida high school teacher who faced being fired after she informally mentored a troubled student is keeping her job.

>> Read more trending news

Samantha Major, 27, was the reigning “New Teacher of the Year” and a participant in Boca Raton High School’s mentoring program for struggling students when she became close with a 15-year-old student of hers. Major had been asked by her principal to participate in the school’s mentor program, in which teachers took students under their wings, and she’d accepted gladly. 

Conversations with the teen student were largely typical adolescent banter at first: college plans, boys, difficulties finding a part-time job. But as the last weeks of 2015 wound down, school records show that Major began to sense the girl was troubled.

Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa, whose administration tried unsuccessfully to arrest Major and then moved to fire her for violating school district policies, reversed his decision to terminate Major Tuesday in the wake of large public outcry and opposition from some school board members after a story about the case was published this past weekend in The Palm Beach Post.

To read the full story, click here.

Original story: Feb. 25

Samantha Major is a teacher whom a supervisor once dubbed “an absolute powerhouse of compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness, professionalism and excellence.”

Now she’s been banished from the classroom, relegated to months of paperwork duties in a school bus depot, targeted for criminal investigation and slated for termination. The county school board will consider the proposal to fire her Wednesday.

Her dizzying reversal of fortunes is, in large part, a story of the pitfalls that await teachers who make extended efforts to aid troubled students.

It is also one of how public schools push teachers to make extra efforts, often with little guidance or preparation, and then leave them to face the fallout.

Read the full story here.

Trump administration withdraws Obama guidance on transgender students' rights

On Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump's administration officially withdrew guidance on transgender students' rights rolled out by former President Barack Obama's administration. The move came after days of speculation.

>> Read more trending news

Under the Obama administration’s Department of Education and Department of Justice, public schools across the country were ordered to allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room that aligned with their gender identity rather than their sex at birth, citing Title IX.

The “dear colleague” letter from the Trump administration does not set forth any new guidance but rather rolls back the previous instructions, insisting that they did not “contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.”

>> See the letters here

Here are the Trump administration letters formally revoking federal protections for transgender students— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 23, 2017

The Trump administration argued that the federal government has a responsibility to enforce the law and that the Obama administration’s protections lacked sufficient legal basis. The Department of Justice and Department of Education wrote that there must be “due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy” and that this is an issue that would be better solved at the state and local levels so communities and families can determine what best meets their needs.

While the memo offers no specific instructions on how schools should deal with the issue, it did add that “schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”

Teachers on leave after mocking students skipping for 'Day Without Immigrants'

When students decided to skip school to join the nationwide “Day Without Immigrants” protest against President Donald Trump's immigration policies, six Southern California teachers apparently joked on social media about how pleasant their days were without the missing pupils.

Those teachers, who work at Rubidoux High School in California’s Inland Empire School District, are on paid leave.

>> Read more trending news

It all started with a Facebook post by teacher Geoffrey Greer, who reportedly wrote:

"As for the school system, having my class size reduced by 50% all day long only served to SUPPORT Trump’s initiatives and prove how much better things might be without all this overcrowding.

"That’s what you get when you jump on some sort of bandwagon cause as an excuse to be lazy and/or get drunk. Best school day ever."

Greer quickly was blasted for his comments, and he deleted the post. However, a student was able to preserve it with a screenshot.

>> See the post here

It may be gone now but ladies and gentlemen l I present  to you our beloved teachers from Rubidoux high school     .My...Posted by Guadalupe Lopez on Thursday, February 16, 2017

Other teachers at the school replied to Greer’s post, according to the Riverside Press Enterprise. The teachers agreed on what a nice day it was.

Eighty percent of the school district’s students are Latino or Hispanic.

One teacher, Robin Riggle, noted that she had 50 absences. Greer offered this reply: “Yup. And I bet your class went a whole lot more smoothly as well.”

Riggle answered back: “Yes, it was a very pleasant day.”

>> See the post here

Posted by Guadalupe Lopez on Thursday, February 16, 2017

The school district’s superintendent, Robert Garcia, said he was disappointed by the teachers’ remarks, according to the Washington Post.

“I am aware of and deeply understand the fears and concerns of our students,” Garcia said in a statement. “I am calling on members of our community to come together to assure that our schools remain safe and our student’s voices are heard.”

Rubidoux High School’s principal, Jose Luis Araux, posted a video to YouTube addressing the situation, in which he made clear that the views of the suspended teachers did not reflect those of the rest of the staff. He promised an investigation into the incident and said he had faith in the intelligence and capabilities of the students.

>> Click here to watch the video

Some students skipped another day of school to protest the teachers' comments.

>> Check it out here

Students march at Mission & Camino Real in Jurupa Valley as it starts to rain— Alicia Robinson (@arobinson_pe) February 17, 2017

The story even got the attention of Univision:

Rubidoux High School being spoken about on @UniNoticias. Gracias @Galoecuador para compartir estes noticias.— Marina (@oxminaox) February 17, 2017

According to the Press Enterprise, Greer issued an apology on Facebook: “While I stand by my assertion that skipping school is no way to demonstrate one’s value to society, I do apologize for the harsh tone and hurtful structure of the previous message. I hadn’t meant for it to come across as quite so scathing.”

Police department helps girl solve math problem during homework emergency

A girl got the homework help she needed when facing a math emergency thanks to her local police department.

A series of photos shared by the Marion, Ohio, Police Department Facebook page shows a message a fifth-grade student sent the department, asking for help solving a math problem. The girl’s mother, Molly Draper, originally shared the images online.

>> See the post here

My daughter. Cause...  She's my daughter.Posted by Molly Draper on Friday, February 17, 2017

Here’s a transcript of the conversation:

Student: I’m having trouble with my homework. Could you help me?

Police department: What’s up?

Student: Well I don’t understand (8+29) x 15

Police department: Do the numbers in the parentheses first so in essence it would be 37 x 15

Student: OK, now if I had this (90+27) + (29+15) x 2

Police department: Take the answer from the first parentheses plus the answer from the second parentheses and multiply that answer times two. Work left to right doing the work inside the parentheses first.

While the police department wasn’t entirely right on the second question (remember the order of operations!), people on social media were touched by officers' willingness to help.

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

“That y’all took the time to help is wonderful. I love positive stories about police. Thank you!!” wrote Facebook user Lili Michaela Schaumburg.

“Love, love, love this a thousand times over. So proud that our MPD is doing amazing things for our community. This is what it’s all about! Thank you Marion Police Department!” wrote Sarah Mae.

>> Read more trending news

Draper said she was touched by the department’s act of service toward her daughter.

“Thank you, Marion, Ohio, Police Department, for truly building relationships with the community,” Draper wrote.

Police department halts high five program with students after parent concerns

Students in Northampton, Massachusetts, used to begin Friday mornings with high fives and fist bumps from local police officers, but because of concerns from parents that program has been halted.

>> Read more trending stories  

The “High Five Friday” program aimed to bring uniformed police officers to the city’s elementary schools on Fridays to welcome students to school. The idea for the program began after a law enforcement conference in San Diego, in which High Five Fridays were promoted as a way for officers to engage with young people, the Northampton Police Department wrote in a Facebook post.  

Today we started "High-5 Friday". Leeds School hosted week 1. Officers and kids had a great time! #northamptonma #high-5— Northampton Police (@NorthamptonPD) December 2, 2016

Northampton police said they received a lot of support for the program from the public, but there were also concerns.

During a school committee meeting, concerns were raised that not all children would feel comfortable with a police presence at the beginning of the school day.

"Others questioned the long-term impacts of the program and wondered if it was truly valuable," the department wrote in a post.

After the meeting, police were asked to pause the program, and they did.

Police attended a follow-up meeting with members of the public to discuss High Five Friday again. Concerns were shared that some students "might respond negatively to a group of uniformed officers at their school."

"People were specifically concerned about kids of color, undocumented children or any children who may have had negative experiences with the police," the post said.

Northampton police made the decision to end the program after that meeting.

In the Facebook post, Northampton police said it will continue to explore ways to connect more with young people and will still accept high fives and fist bumps from anyone who asks an officer on the street.

We are aware that there is an article circulating through social media related to NPD’s High Five Friday program.  There...Posted by Northampton Police Department on Saturday, February 18, 2017

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