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

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

 

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

Transgender student locked out of a lockdown drill

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It’s nice to know that in the event of a true emergency, school officials will focus on what really matters: figuring out where to stick the transgender kid.

A transgender girl was allegedly barred from entering both the girls’ and boys’ locker rooms during a lockdown drill at her middle school in Stafford County, Virginia. She says she was forced to sit alone on the bleachers while the remainder of her physical education class took shelter in the locker rooms.

First of all, I didn’t realize that lockdown drills involved removal of clothing or anything else that may take place in locker rooms during normal school time. Wait, they don’t? So what did it matter where this kid went? Pull her into a room, and protect her.

In a place (meaning, public schools) where LGBT issues are typically discussed openly and non-conforming individuals are supported and often encouraged, the fact that things like this are still happening is truly mindboggling. This wasn’t even an issue of “Which bathroom should they use?” This was merely an issue of protecting a child’s life.

The next time you think you’re sending your child off to a place where those entrusted with their well being and safety will actually *care* about their well being and safety, think again. Because maybe next time, it won’t be a drill. Many schools don’t make the distinction between a “practice run” and a real emergency. And maybe next time they’ll deliberate where to put little Jimmy because he’s in the hallway between two classrooms (“You take him!” “No, *you* take him!”), or maybe Susan is throwing up so they moved her to the bathroom but now there’s an active shooter and her teacher hurriedly locks the classroom door, and “Where’s Susan? Oh, I’m sure she’s fine.”

Supposedly this transgender student had a teacher with them, as if this makes things all better. Good luck finding a teacher to be a sitting duck during an actual emergency. There are heroes, but there are also selfish idiots. Do you know which one is in your child’s classroom?

Transgender student barred from shelter in locker rooms during school safety drill

Transgender student allegedly barred from shelter during school safety drill at Virginia middle school

School bus driver lets children take the wheel

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Children in Indiana got the trip of a lifetime, while their school bus driver got a trip to the unemployment line… If she doesn’t wind up in prison, that is.

Joandrea McAtee, 27, a school bus driver for schools in Porter Township, Indiana, was fired, and subsequently arrested, after video emerged of her allowing students – it’s alleged three were involved, ages 11, 13, and 17 – to drive the bus on their way home from school. Passengers captured the driving lessons on video, and their parents immediately alerted school officials.

“Don’t you tell no other adults,” McAtee tells one child, while in another video a woman is heard saying, “it’s all good. It’s all good. I’m letting her stop at Michael’s stop.”

McAtee was then taken into police custody as she arrived at the bus depot to pick up her final paycheck. She was charged with neglect of a dependent (that’s it???). The “investigation” is still ongoing.

Porter Township is a rural community a little more than an hour from Chicago. The bus slowly made its way down Lourdes Street with a small girl at the helm, most likely from Boone Grove middle school. Keep in mind that most school buses either don’t have seat belts, or don’t enforce their use.

Porter Township bus driver let 11-year-old, 2 teenagers drive: police

School bus driver fired for letting kids take the wheel

Indiana Bus Driver Fired For Letting Kids Drive The Bus

Joandrea McAtee, bus driver, accused of letting students drive

The high cost of sexual assault in schools

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image courtesy Aurora Police Department

As if it weren’t enough that the victims of sexual assault in schools carry their pain and trauma into adulthood and often for the rest of their lives, school districts often face the payment of huge settlements to try and make up for the placement of a pervert in the classroom.

Cherry Creek School District in Arapahoe County, Colorado, has reached a $11.5 million settlement with five victims of abuse by one Brian Vasquez, a 34-year-old former social studies teacher at Prairie Middle School. He has pled guilty to charges of sexual abuse and attempted sexual abuse, and according to officials, has admitted to sending explicit text messages to all five victims and having sex with at least two of them.

That’s not all: it emerged that one victim attempted, way back in 2013, to report the abuse to school officials, including a principal and counselor, who did nothing with the information. Both were indicted on misdemeanor charges for failing to report the allegations to police. It’s alleged that at the time the victim made the allegations, she was not only forced to recant her statements and apologize to her abuser, but was then suspended from school.

Cherry Creek School District encompasses 65 schools in the Denver/Aurora area. In their budget report they project the per-student spending for the 2018-2019 school year to average about $8,100. The $11.5 million settlement paid to the 5 victims equates to the education budget for over 1400 students within the district. Two million dollars will come from the district’s insurance policy (because, hey, you’ve got to be prepared for things like this, am I right?), and the remaining $9.5 million will come from budget reserves.

Prairie Middle School has received a poor grade of 3/10 from GreatSchools, citing test scores well below the national average and lack of support for lower income children (who make up about 75% of the student body). Parent feedback about the school is mixed.

Vasquez will be sentenced later this week, where he faces up to 40 years in prison. He taught at Prairie Middle School for seven years. Prior to that, he worked in two other Colorado school districts.

Vasquez has two young children.

School District Announces $11.5M Settlement With Students Sexually Assaulted By Teacher

Prairie Middle School teacher Brian Vasquez now faces 31 felony child sex charges

Cherry Creek School District to pay $11.5 million to 5 students who were sexually assaulted by a teacher

Cherry Creek School District Profile of Student-Based Budgeting for Schools FY2018-19

Prairie Middle School on GreatSchools.org