Middle school students threaten to shoot teacher and her family

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A teacher is sleeping a little easier tonight now two of her students at Southwood Middle School in Palmetto Bay, Florida were arrested Sunday after they threatened, via Instagram, to kill her and her children on Valentine’s Day. The news comes as Florida mourns the anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

 

The victim, a 36-year-old teacher who by many accounts is beloved by her students, was told “You and your children are next on Valentine’s Day for making my life I’m finna kill all yo family and shoot up yo bitch ass school.”  They also brought to her attention a picture of her infant daughter. The woman, fearing for her life and that of her family, contacted police, who were able to trace the bogus social media account account (appropriately-named, and very indicative of the young children who created it, “Southwood School Shooter”) and arrest a 13-year-old child, who then implicated his 12-year-old friend as an accomplice. Both boys confessed and were charged with Aggravated Stalking and Written Threats To Kill or do Bodily Injury and taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools issued the following statement through their Superintendent, Alberto Carvalho:

“Recent arrests of students for hoax social media threats demonstrate clearly and unequivocally that Miami-Dade County Public Schools has a zero-tolerance policy related to this type of activity. Parents and students must understand that any threat – real or fabricated – to schools and students is a serious matter. It is unacceptable and those involved in such activity will be prosecuted. Prank and hoax threats made against a school are counterproductive to the life-saving work of law enforcement and compromise the safety of everyone.”

Televised interviews show parents who seem content to believe that the district has done enough to keep their children safe, and that they do an adequate job of communicating all of the potential threats in their schools to families. Some believe it’s not that serious because it’s “most likely” just a hoax, anyway.

DCPS states they’ve received 60 threats to their schools in 2019, and 12 of them have resulted in arrests.

Southwood Middle School is the site of a fatal stabbing that took place in 2004, when Michael Hernandez murdered classmate Jaime Gough, earning him a life sentence. Both victim and perpetrator were 14.

Today, the school boasts a positive report on GoodSchools.Org, with above average test scores in the state for both reading and math, as well as a decent representation of ethnicities among the student population. Southwood serves approximately 1500 students in grades 6 through 8.

2 Southwood Middle School students accused of threatening to shoot teacher

Two Southwood Middle School Students Arrested For Threatening To Shoot Up School, Kill Teacher

Southwood Middle Students Threaten to Kill Teacher on Valentine’s Day

Press Release – Hoax Threat to M-DCPS School Results in Arrests

‘You and your children are next on Valentine’s Day.’ Boys threaten teacher, police say.

(2016 article) Student who stabbed classmate to death at Southwood Middle returns to court for sentencing

Southwood Middle School Center for the Arts

GreatSchools.Org – Southwood Middle School

Teen steals, then runs over accuser

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A 16-year-old boy was arrested after he allegedly ran over a woman with his car after she accused him of stealing, leaving the victim in critical condition.

Some articles said she confronted him about stealing candy or “packaged food items,” while others assert it was money that was pilfered. Either way, the incident took place in Thousand Oaks High School in Thousand Oaks, California, during a basketball game last Friday evening. Lisa Solis, an activities assistant at the school, witnessed the teen stealing from a concession stand at the event, and confronted him about it when he fled outside to a Mercedes Benz sedan in the parking lot along with four of his friends. Solis stood in front of the car to prevent him from leaving when he decided it’d be a good to idea to not only use the car to knock her to the ground, but run over her as he left the scene. She was subsequently rushed to the hospital, and police quickly caught up with the unnamed teen, who was taken into custody on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, and booked at Ventura County’s Juvenile Justice Center.

Solis remains in critical condition with extensive injuries, including bleeding on the brain, broken ribs and collar bone, punctures in both lungs, and a broken jaw. Her family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical bills.

Thousand Oaks High School is part of Conejo Valley Unified School District and serves approximately 2300 students in grades 9 through 12. Nestled in an affluent, primarily-white neighborhood where homes regularly sell for well over half a million dollars, the school boasts a 98% graduation rate, and above average performance on standardized tests, as well as an elevated SAT college readiness rate. A student reports via GreatSchools.org that minorities receive a great deal of bullying within the school. This is a perfect example of the school construct itself breeding criminal activity, and not merely culture or socioeconomic status. A spoiled rich kid deliberately ran over a school employee in his Mercedes, while his friends laughed in the back seat. This isn’t a blog about white privilege, but one cannot help but draw those parallels. Still, one only needs to look at prisons throughout the world, in every location, housing people from every walk of life, to see that crime begets crime, criminals come from anywhere, and concentrating them into as unnatural of circumstances as prisons (or schools) serves as a detriment to those there that aren’t a threat to society. They just get caught in the crossfire.

Teen arrested after hit-run leaves Thousand Oaks school employee in critical condition

Teen suspected of deliberately running over a Thousand Oaks High assistant is arrested

Teen intentionally ran over woman at Thousand Oaks High School, authorities say

California teen runs over woman with car after she confronts him about stealing at high school: officials

GreatSchools.Org – Thousand Oaks High School

Thousand Oaks, CA Real Estate – Realtor.com

Conejo Valley United School District – Thousand Oaks High School

#stayingstrongforlisa – GoFundMe Page for Lisa Solis

Middle school displays racially insensitive images, teachers

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photo courtesy of Arthur L. Mackey Jr.

Roosevelt Union Free School District in Long Island, New York is facing some intense scrutiny from parents and professionals alike after it came to light that teachers at Roosevelt Middle School included pictures of nooses in a collage, which referred to them as “back to school necklaces.” The hashtags “Yes” and “Ha-ha” were also to be seen on the collage, near the pictures.

In what is being referred to as a “personnel matter,” the district insists it is investigating, but will not comment further on the actions it will take to rectify the problem. Meanwhile, students continue to attend a school where teachers make light of the struggles their ancestors have endured. If we can put racism aside (and really, in a situation like this, how can we?), when is it ever okay to have pictures of nooses in a middle school, especially with the words “ha-ha” anywhere near them?

The truth is, the school and district may never have noticed the college or its offensive material, had it not been for an unnamed teacher bringing it up with pastor Andrew L. Mackey, Jr. of Mount Sinai Baptist Church Cathedral in Roosevelt. He publicized the image and issued a call to action. It’s good to see someone standing up for the children in this school.

The school serves nearly 300 students in grades 6 and 7, almost all of whom identify as minorities. The principal himself is African American. Greatschools reports that test scores in both reading and math fall well below the state average, and the school’s homepage shows student notices are published in both English and Spanish. This is obviously a low performing school whose students may ultimately choose not to attend, if they feel threatened or marginalized.

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“important message” on Roosevelt Middle School’s homepage

A video on the school’s website (linked below) shows a local news station’s recent profile of the school, and the positive sentiments expressed about the school’s future. Perhaps academically it could improve, if given a more positive atmosphere. Still, one needs to laugh, or else they might cry, at hearing the reporter stress that the school focuses also on “social and emotional learning.”

Noose photos labeled ‘back to school necklaces’ by middle school teachers outrage parents

Noose photo displayed in New York classroom draws action from school district

Classroom Collage With Nooses Labeled ‘Back to School Necklaces’ Roils NY District

Roosevelt UFSD – Roosevelt Middle School

Roosevelt Renaissance (video)- CBS News

GreatSchools.Org – Roosevelt Middle School

 

Irritant discharged at school dance, thirteen people hospitalized

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image courtesy @mdominguezfoto on Unsplash

At least a dozen people, mostly children, were hospitalized for eye irritation and breathing difficulties following the discharge of what could possibly have been pepper spray during a dance at G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School in Lehigh Acres, Florida Friday night, with at least four people removed from the school on stretchers. A large triage center was set up outside of Lehigh Regional Medical Center, where even more people were being examined.

Investigations are under way to determine the exact nature of the irritant, as well as its method of disbursement, considering the fact that when someone employs the use of pepper spray, it usually isn’t to incapacitate more than one or two people.

The dance in question was the school’s “Friendship Dance,” in which both students and parents were in attendance.

G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School serves approximately 800 children in grades K through fifth, in Lehigh Acres, Florida. Multiple investigations into its standing compared with other schools in Florida have yielded very low scores. It does, however, boast great diversity, with an estimated 61% Hispanic, 18% white, and 18% African American student population, which has increased in recent years, along with overall student enrollment. The school, housed in a renovated K-Mart building, was founded in 2010.

13 people in hospital due to irritant discharged at school dance

Irritant sends more than a dozen people taken to hospital from school dance in Lehigh Acres Melissa Montoya, Fort Myers News-Press

G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School

Lee County School District – G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School

Schooldigger.com – G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School

Middle school assault over snitching

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image courtesy @kj2018 on UnSplash

Frederick County Public School District in Frederick, Maryland, is investigating an alleged middle school assault at Urbana Middle School on Wednesday that was captured on a cell phone camera after the victim was accused of “snitching” on another student who had brought a type of electronic cigarette to class.

The video appears to show the victim being accosted somewhere outside the school, and after running away, and then apologizing, being attacked to the approval of an excited mob of students. He is also shown, and heard, begging for mercy, as the camera continues to roll. While FCPS insists it was made aware of the assault “almost immediately,” one wonders what the character education in Urbana Middle School includes, if no student is purported to have attempted to help the student who was attacked. And while the video provides impressive evidence against the attackers, the culture of “watch, don’t act,” is not only alive and well in junior high, but seems to be enabled. Of course, the spokesman for FCPS stressed that this was not the case: “Anytime an incident like this happens, school administrators and law enforcement work hard to determine the cause of the incident, but the most important thing to us is that violence of any kind is simply unacceptable, so regardless of the exact precipitating events, we want to help our students find productive and safe ways to deal with events at school.”

Drawing parallels between public school and prison is a simple task, indeed. When do the majority of prison assaults occur? When authority figures’ backs are turned. What happens during the assault? Do fellow prisoners come to the victim’s aid? Or, if they were afforded the use of a cell phone camera, might the same thing happen that occurred on the grounds of Urbana Middle School?

Disciplinary actions were taken by the school, but FCPS declined to disclose what those actions were. The assault is also being investigated by local law enforcement.

FCPS spokesman Michael Doerrer said a lot of things were up in the air, but he did affirm, “What I do know for sure is that the school is safe.” Is it?

Urbana Middle School in Ijamsville, Maryland, serves approximately 1000 students in Frederick County, and lists two of its core values as “demonstrating empathy, caring, and respect for all,” and “Creating and maintaining a safe school climate.

Assault leads to disciplinary action, investigation of Urbana Middle School students

Frederick County Public Schools – Urbana Middle Schoool

Teachers strike in Los Angeles, citing low pay

 

Los Angeles students are still coming to school today, but they’re being met with unfamiliar faces as substitute teachers step in to fill the gap left by 28,000 striking teachers, who are of course “doing it for the students.”

The dispute is over (what else?) a demanded 6.5% pay raise – teachers insist the district has the money to burn, and want the raise immediately (Friday they rejected an offer from the school district giving them a 6% raise over 2 years). They’re also wanting smaller class sizes and “fully staffed” schools, which include more nurses, librarians, and counselors. The district said meeting every demand would put them more than half a billion dollars in the red.

So in essence, teachers (or, rather, their union bosses, who of course “only have the interests of them and their children at heart) are wanting greater compensation (which means greater union dues) for less work.

Never mind that teaching degrees constitute some of the easiest-earned degrees in the nation, and education students collectively have the lowest SAT scores among matriculating freshmen. GPAs for education majors are nearly a full point higher than those studying math or science. Countless undergraduates joke that if they can’t cut in their challenging classes, they “could always just major in education.”

Don’t tell me teachers weren’t aware they may not receive astronomical salaries, when they were back in college. Don’t tell me they “did it for the children;” how many of us had teachers that “just didn’t care” and were literally counting the minutes until school let out for the day, or the year (or until retirement)? If they really had children’s interests in mind, would they be refusing to come into work, forcing their charges to spend the days on the streets, in front of the television, or in a classroom with a clueless substitute?

The average teacher salary in Los Angeles Unified School District is $75,000. This doesn’t take into account the 3 months’ vacation they get every year, or the excellent benefits package, including retirement benefits that put most other jobs to shame.

The school district serves approximately 640,000 students.

LA Teachers Go On Strike For First Time In 30 Years

CITY RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO FAMILIES DURING THE EVENT OF A STRIKE

Here’s The Nation’s Easiest College Major

Photos: Thousands of L.A. Teachers March on Strike

Elementary School Principal/Grinch Ousted

In a rare moment of sanity, a school district in Omaha, Nebraska, placed a principal on administrative leave after she perhaps took the “separation of church and state” idea a little too seriously.

It was discovered that one Jennifer Sinclair, principal of Manchester Elementary School, issued an internal memo banning everything even remotely related to the Christmas holiday, including, of all things, candy canes, supposedly because they are in the shape of J’s (“for Jesus”), and the colors are representative of His blood and resurrection. Teachers were also banned from singing Christmas carols, putting up trees, or referring to reindeer, among other things.

Said memo, referenced below, mentions mandates from Elkhorn School District, and reminds teachers that they need to be sensitive to all religions and cultures. While the principal herself was removed from her post, it sounds like she was just following through with what she believed the district insisted upon. Whether or not she took it too far and is the only one to blame are points of contention.

Acceptable practices:
Gifts to students
Students making gift for a loved one
Snowmen, snow women, snow people, snowflakes
Gingerbread people
Holidays Around the World – purposeful presentation of information to teach about different cultures
Sledding
Hot chocolate
Polar Bears
Penguins
Scarves, boots, earmuffs, and hats
Yetis
Olaf – Frozen

Not acceptable:
Santas or Christmas items (clipart) on worksheets
Christmas trees in classrooms
Elf on the Shelf – that’s Christmas-related
Singing Christmas Carols
Playing Christmas music
Sending a Scholastic book that is a Christmas book – that’s Christmas-related
Making a Christmas ornament as a gift – This assumes that the family has a Christmas tree which assumes they celebrate Christmas. I challenge the thought of, “Well they can just hang it somewhere else.”
Candy Cane – that’s Christmas related. Historically, the shape is a “J” for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes.
Red/Green items – traditional Christmas colors
Reindeer
Christmas videos/movies and/or characters from Christmas movies

When in doubt, ask yourself:
What is the clear instructional purpose of this?
Does this item or activity promote a certain belief or religious (sic)?

Ironically enough, in the same memo a fourth grade trip to see the Nutcracker is mentioned. I wonder if anyone told the principal that this is a Christmas-themed show?

The decision to remove Ms. Sinclair began with nonprofit group centered on Christian values and First Amendment rights, Liberty Counsel, which sent a strongly-worded letter to the district asserting that religious freedom was being infringed upon. They did not advocate for her removal; only for her compliance with what they felt was a more acceptable handling of winter holidays.

While the district policy alluded to by the principal in the full memo (both linked below) is not as harsh as the strict guidelines set forth by Ms. Sinclair to her faculty, the fact that a public school is indeed a secular institution cannot be ignored. It serves to educate the broader community, and while banning Rudolph and the colors red and green may seem a bit ridiculous, government entities are well within their rights to do so, so as to cater to the community as a whole, and not just one specific group, religious or otherwise. If you truly find this unfair, you may be ready to ask yourselves: is this really the best place to educate our children? What other, more serious things are being added to or removed from the curriculum, all in the name of political correctness?

A statement from Elkhorn School District spokesperson, Kara Perchal reads: “Elkhorn Public Schools District administration promptly addressed the issue at Manchester Elementary School regarding the memo that was sent by the principal to Manchester elementary staff. The memo does not reflect the policy of Elkhorn Public Schools regarding holiday symbols in the school. The district has since clarified expectations and provided further direction to staff in alignment with district policy. This issue was limited to Manchester Elementary School and did not arise at any other schools within the district.”

Ms. Sinclair had been in her first year as principal of Manchester Elementary, which serves over 540 students from Kindergarten through fifth grade in the Omaha area.

Elementary school principal placed on leave after banning all things Christmas from classrooms

Letter from Liberty Counsel to Elkhorn Public School District

Manchester Elementary School – Week Ahead Notes: Dec. 3 – Dec. 7

Elkhorn Public Schools – ADMINISTRATIVE RULES AND PROCEDURES TO IMPLEMENT POLICY 604.05

Manchester Elementary