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 The school itself is small and outdated, desperately in need of updating and repairs.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

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

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