Kindergartener brings superhero-stamped bag of heroin to school

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image courtesy Holyoke Police Department

A Massachusetts kindergartener was rushed to the hospital last Thursday after he admitted to teachers that he tasted the contents of the bag he brought to school. Inside the bag, which was stamped with superhero markings, contained a white powder that was later confirmed to be heroin.

Benny Garcia, 29, was arrested later that day, after he was found asleep in his home with 170 bags of heroin around him, as well as bags of cocaine. He’s plead “not guilty” to drug possession and reckless endangerment of a child, when he was arraigned on Friday. The 5-year-old, and an infant sibling, have since been removed from the home. Garcia is being held without bail pending a hearing on November 20.

H.B. Lawrence Elementary School, in Holyoke, MA, is part of Holyoke School District, and serves 285 students in grades K-3. A large majority (91%) of the student population is Hispanic, and 78% of all students qualify as from low-income families. According to GreatSchools, standardized test scores in both reading and math fall way below the state average. The school itself is small and outdated, desperately in need of updating and repairs. The community recently voted down an initiative (which included a property tax increase) to build new schools and take the pressure off some of the smaller, struggling schools.

Kindergartener takes dad’s heroin to school, says it makes him a superhero

Man pleads not guilty after 5-year-old son brings heroin to school, authorities say

H.B. Lawrence Elementary School – GreatSchools

Guest column Patrick O’Connor: ‘Our children deserve this’

Holyoke Public Schools – Middle School Redesign

Charter School drinking fountains have high lead levels, unbeknownst to parents

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image courtesy Google Street View

Children in a Philadelphia charter school have been consuming water from drinking fountains with astronomically high levels of lead, possibly for years, and parents are only now becoming aware of the issue.

Frederick Douglass Mastery Charter School, which serves approximately 750 students in grades K-8, (of whom nearly 100% are black and fall below the poverty level) has had issues with its water for over 15 years, but nothing has been done aside from occasionally taking the affected fountains out of rotation for a while. Parents were finally notified of the issue recently, and they are understandably upset.

The most recent tests on drinking fountains at the school, conducted by the district in compliance with a new city ordinance, showed water concentration levels of lead that reached upwards of 3500 ppb (parts per billion); the accepted maximum is around 10 ppb, although most medical professionals will agree that there is no amount of lead that should be acceptable in drinking water. All this while teachers report that there have been, for an untold number of years, special coolers with water designated for the teachers, because on some level it was understood that the fountains did not deliver water that was acceptable to drink.

Consuming high levels of lead, especially in children, has been attributed to lower IQ scores, increased incidence of ADHD, and other developmental and behavioral problems. The FDA sets the standard for lead concentration of drinking water at 5 ppb, while the EPA remains more conservative at 15 ppb.

Frederick Douglass Mastery Charter School is among 18 schools in the Philadelphia area operated by Mastery Charter School. The building itself was built in 1938, and until 2010 was under control by the School District of Philadelphia. As early as 2000, however, drinking water tests at the school have shown lead levels higher than what is deemed acceptable, and have consistently been swept under the rug.

The district admits that the maintenance backlog is so extensive that fixing the problem just isn’t possible, citing other issues in crumbling Philadelphia schools such as HVAC malfunctions, asbestos, and chipping paint.

On Frederick Douglass’s home page a quote from a parent features prominently:

“I just love the communication between
the parents and the teachers and the school.”

-Yonita Martin, Mastery Parent

One has to wonder if this parent is now eating their words, after realizing the school has been keeping parents in the dark about their children’s health and safety for years.

Test scores, perhaps unsurprisingly, rank low compared to state averages, with just 22% demonstrating language arts proficiency (compared with Pennsylvania’s 63%) and 7% demonstrating math proficiency (compared with Pennsylvania’s 46%).

Philly school knew about toxic lead in drinking water but kept parents in the dark

Frederick Douglass Elementary – Mastery Schools

Frederick Douglass Mastery Charter School – Public School Review

Lead Toxicity – What Are U.S. Standards for Lead Levels? – CDC.gov

Teacher arrested for being drunk at school

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source: Harlan County Detention Center

Many teachers will say their job drives them to drink, but luckily most of them do it outside of school hours.

A special education teacher in Kentucky was arrested Tuesday and charged with alcohol intoxication in a public place, after he was found in the parking lot of Evarts Elementary School, slurring his speech and smelling of alcohol. He refused a sobriety test.

Matthew Hubbard, the teacher in question, worked at the school for approximately two months prior to his arrest (prior to that it is said he worked in another county, doing who-knows-what, for many years). Pending the ongoing investigation, he has been suspended from his duties at the school.

Evarts Elementary School in Evarts, Kentucky is a PK-8 school within the Harlan County Public School System. According to GreatSchools it is about average in terms of math and reading proficiency, and while the student population is 96% white, it is also 83% low-income.

Eastern Kentucky teacher arrested for being drunk at elementary school

Deputy: Kentucky teacher charged for being drunk at school

Deputy: Kentucky teacher charged for being drunk at school

Evarts Elementary School – GreatSchools

School Resource Officers, “pillars of the community”

Just a few news articles about school resource officers over the past couple weeks.

9/23/2019 – Florida school resource officer arrests, handcuffs 6-year-old girl
School resource officer fired after arresting 6-year-olds(“She was having a tantrum,” so apparently police were called in. Their hands were bound with zip ties, they were fingerprinted and charged with battery. But the officer was fired, so I guess all’s well that ends well, right?)

9/24/2019 – School resource officer faces charge after student said he choked him (A Mississippi SRO was placed on administrative leave. The student says he was pushed into the ladies’ restroom and choked. The SRO insists it’s all a lie. Witnesses, including two teachers, corroborate the student’s story.)

9/26/2019 – Alabama grandmother alleges SRO harassed middle school student (An SRO approached a group of children in the lunch room and asked “Which one of y’all’s daddies have I not arrested yet?” When a girl responded that her father hadn’t been arrested, the SRO responded with, “That’s because you don’t know who your daddy is.” This officer has an apparent history of harassing students, yet he remains on duty.)

10/1/2019 – Lawsuit alleges disabled Parma student was sprayed with drink by school resource officer prior to suspension (Ohio parents filing the lawsuit claim they have audio proving the SRO sprayed the child with a juice box as they waited for the principal. They are also claiming discrimination – the student is American, but of Arab descent. Many of these incidents involving SRO’s are allegedly racially motivated.)

10/4/2019 – Jasper Middle School resource officer resigns after probe into texts with students (The Tennessee SRO resigned even though there was found to be “nothing inappropriate” about texting middle school students at all hours of the day and night.)

10/4/2019 – School resource officer sentenced to 1 year in jail for sexually assaulting 3 high school students (A Michigan SRO pleaded no contest to charges such as criminal sexual assault of a minor, assault, and misconduct in office. One of his victims had aspirations of becoming a police officer. Now she is scarred for life. He gets a whopping year in prison.)

This woman gets it. Her article about the need to eliminate school resource officers is spot on, and advocates for the students SRO’s do not. Schools infringe on civil liberties as they are, but school resource officers only compound the issue.

Scabies infestation in Virginia school district

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source: Corbis

At least eight cases of scabies have been confirmed among students within Cumberland School District in Virginia – six at the local elementary school, and two at the middle school. While assistant superintendent Elizabeth Jamerson insisted as recently as October 3 that the incident was isolated to the elementary school, reports surfaced just a few days later of there being cases over at least two schools within the district.

Extra staff were brought in to clean the known-to-be-infested schools, and students were sent home with scabies facts sheets (linked below) from the Virginia Department of Health. Superintendent Amy Griffin posted a cell phone video on the district website addressing parental concerns and assuring them the schools and buses would be cleaned over the next 12 weeks. She urged parents to “do their part” to prevent the spread of the disease, including practicing good hygiene and keeping any children presenting symptoms at home.

Scabies is a contagious skin infection caused by a mite that burrows into the skin. It is most often passed through prolonged (10+ minutes) contact with the skin of another person, through close living conditions and/or sex. High incidence has been reported in places such as daycare facilities and prisons (school is, arguably, both). Symptoms of scabies usually don’t present themselves until between two and six weeks after infection, so it’s safe to say more cases will be reported before all’s said and done.

Cumberland County Public Schools serves 1,364 students in grades PK, K-12 in three schools, and according to Niche, scores at a B or below for everything but diversity. Over 65% of the student population receives free or reduced lunch.

Several cases of scabies confirmed at Cumberland school

Scabies infestation spreads at Cumberland Schools

Multiple confirmed cases of scabies at Cumberland County Schools

Scabies Fact Sheet – Virginia Department of Health

HEALTH UPDATE FROM DR. AMY GRIFFIN – Cumberland County Public Schools

Cumberland County Public Schools – Virginia – Niche

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

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