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Indiana mom: Son was left strapped in school bus for 2 hours

A 3-year-old Indiana boy was left stranded on a school bus for more than an hour Tuesday, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported.

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Luke Collin was left at the School Town of Munster bus barn, his mother, Lauren Collin, told the newspaper.

“I didn't know if I'd ever see him again,” Collin said. “I didn't know if he walked off and I was thinking how far he could have gone in two hours. I didn't know if he ran out in the parking lot or if someone grabbed him. It's cold out. How long could a child last in the cold?”

Collin had sent her son to West Lake Special Education Cooperative on Tuesday morning, the Times reported. She went to the school around 10:30 a.m. to surprise Luke at the scholastic book fair, but was shocked to hear school staff members say they thought the boy was at home.

“I was screaming, I felt like I couldn't breathe,” Collin told the Times. “They kept telling me to calm down because I'm pregnant. I know I'm pregnant. I know the baby in my belly is safe, but where's my 3-year-old son?”

The school was put on lockdown as school officials searched for Luke. He was found at the bus barn. 

School Town of Munster Superintendent Jeff Hendrix said the boy was found "unharmed and warm by bus facility personnel" School Town of Munster Superintendent Jeff Hendrix said. He was on the bus for 80 minutes, officials said.

“Terrible,” Scott Collin, Luke's dad, told the Times. “They called me and told me my wife was frantic. That she was freaking out because we lost your 3-year-old and she needs to calm down because she's pregnant. I said, 'What do you mean you lost our 3-year-old?' There was no compassion.”

Hendrix said the school is investigating the incident.

"We are currently investigating the incident to determine if all procedures were followed. Upon completion of the investigation, if it is determined that our policies and procedures need to be updated or rewritten, then we will do so," Hendrix told the newspaper. "Our goal is to ensure that all students are kept safe at all times during their transportation to and from the School Town of Munster, as well as, the time spent in our buildings during the school day."

New York school district puts 2-pack limit on condiments for students 

A school district in New York has decided to limit students to dispensing two 9-gram packs of condiments per meal, Newsday reported.

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Eastport-South Manor Assistant Superintendent Timothy Laube sent a letter to parents Tuesday that explained that the condiment crackdown was a move toward healthier eating habits for children and stricter adherence to federal and state nutrition guidelines, the newspaper reported.

Children will still be allowed to bring extra condiment packets to school. Laube wrote.

Last year, the school adopted packets after moving away from pump dispensers, Newsday reported.

"I haven't seen any kids complaining about ketchup, and I talk to the cashier staff and the kids don't seem to have an issue with it," Laube told the newspaper.

School board member Jeff Goldhammer said the new guidelines “are not a big deal” to his three school-age children, Newsday reported..

"I can understand it seems like a silly issue, but kids are only supposed to have a certain amount of calories,” Goldhammer told the newspaper.

Teacher: School banned him after he thanked students for saying Pledge of Allegiance

A longtime substitute teacher at a suburban St. Louis high school said school administrators banned him after he thanked students for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

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Jim Furkin, who taught for 10 years as a Parkway South High School substitute in Manchester, Missouri, said the ban was mandated after a student complained, the newspaper reported. At a meeting of the Parkway School Board on Wednesday. Furkin asked school administrators to look into the situation.

“I’d like to know what happened,” Furkin said.

In late October, Furkin said he was substituting for a freshman English class when the school made its morning announcements over the public address system, the Post-Dispatch reported. After announcements, students are asked to stand up and say the Pledge of Allegiance.

“So I say, ‘All right, let’s go,’ and we recite the pledge,” Furkin told the newspaper. “There are always two or three who don’t stand up because it’s not required. So at the end of the pledge I said, ‘Thanks to all of you that participated in that. I’m sure that all of those families who lost loved ones so that we could enjoy the freedoms we have today would appreciate the effort.’”

When a student asked Furkin if he could go to the school guidance counselor’s office, he wrote the child a pass, the Post-Dispatch reported. Questioned later in the day about the pledge, Furkin recounted his story, the newspaper reported. The administrator told him the student was “hurt” by his comments, Furkin said.

“I said, ‘Oh, I didn’t mean it that way, that wasn’t my intent at all,’” Furkin told the Post-Dispatch. “He said ‘We’ll get back to you,’ and then the next day after that, I’m no longer welcome in the building.”

Furkin said he was told by Kelly Educational Staffing, the agency the school district uses to hire substitute teachers, that he would no longer be allowed to teach at the school because he “bullied” a student, the newspaper reported.

“To me personally, the flag represents freedom, and there’s a lot of price that’s been paid for the freedom we have today,” Furkin said. “That’s all I’m saying to the kids. ... Could somebody feel offended by that? I would hope not. But like I said at the (school board) meeting, when you say something, you don’t know how someone else is going to perceive it.”

A Parkway spokeswoman told the Post-Dispatch on Thursday that the district would make a statement after officials had gathered more information about the incident. Kelly Educational Staffing did not immediately respond to a request for comment, the newspaper reported.

Connecticut mom upset after son's hair lit on fire at school

A Connecticut mother is angry after she said her 17-year-old son’s hair was set on fire, WTNH reported. 

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Vivian Mabry, the teen’s mother, said the alleged attack occurred Oct. 26 at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School in New Haven, the television station reported.

Mabry said her son was sitting in piano class when a 15-year-old classmate held a lighter to his head and began burning it, WTNH reported.

"How did this kid get a lighter in school?" Mabry asked the television station. "I want them to rectify this. I want them to fix it. I want some sort of plan put in place.”

The 15-year-old received a five-day suspension, and Mabry told WTNH she was never contacted by the school or the school district.

"I didn't receive a letter. I didn't receive a phone call,” Mabry told the television station. “I didn't receive anything from the nurse telling me my child was OK or if he was injured."

A school spokesman told WTNH that initial efforts to reach Mabry failed, but school officials eventually met with her.

In a statement, William Clark, the school’s CEO, called the incident “minor.”

“Police, security, school and emergency responders and nurse engaged,” Clark said. “The alleged victim was treated at school and did not require any further treatment." 

Florida high school seniors view 'inappropriate' sexual consent video

School district officials in Florida called a video shown to high school seniors about sexual consent “inappropriate” and “unsuitable,” the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

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A class of high school seniors at Pine View School in Sarasota were shown “How Do You Know if Someone Wants to Have Sex with You?” -- a 3-minute, 50-second video created by Planned Parenthood, the newspaper reported. The video was not approved by the school’s administration, the Herald-Tribune reported.

The video depicts several circumstances and signals that indicate whether a partner wants to have consensual sex, the newspaper reported.

The Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center, which conducted the class, apologized in a release Monday, noting that a counselor for the group decided to show the video despite knowing it was not approved by the school. 

“We sincerely apologize for the incident last Wednesday at Pine View. The staff member did not follow established protocol regarding the programming presented, and the organization has acted to ensure that this does not happen again,” SPARCC President and CEO Jessica Hays said in a statement. “SPARCC has had a positive relationship with Sarasota County Schools that has spanned more than 15 years and we take the trust placed in our organization very seriously. Preventing domestic/dating violence and sexual assault is central to our mission and SPARCC aims to be a trusted resource for our community.”

Pamela Gavette, the parent of a student at Pine View, posted the video last week to the Herald-Tribune’s Facebook page and called it “adult content.”

Sarasota School Board Chairwoman Bridget Ziegler posted a link to the video on Twitter.

Not all reaction to the video was negative, the Herald-Tribune reported.

“I think this is great,” one person wrote in response to Gavette’s post. “Be real. Maybe your kids will actually tell you things.”

Hate messages painted again on The Rock at University of Tennessee

“Symbols and messages of hate” were painted on The Rock at the University of Tennessee, school officials said in a news release Sunday.

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“This is the second time in as many weeks that the Rock has been used to communicate hate,” the news release said. “These messages, which are hurtful and threatening to many members of our community, do not represent our Volunteer values.”

The Rock, a 97.5-ton slab of dolomite stone — has been a fixture at the University’s Knoxville campus since the 1960s.

The statement did not describe the content of the messages, but a Facebook post by Sandra Starr Marquis, showed a painting of the Vols' mascot, Smokey,  had defaced with swastikas and other hate messages, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

The university’s student government president, Ovi Kabir, tweeted a photo of The Rock after it had been painted over with a message with the word “Love.”

"Signs of hate and bigotry have no place on our Rock or our campus," Kabir tweeted. "Attempts to divide our community have and will always fall short because as Vols, we stand undivided against injustice."

Less than two weeks ago, a group for Jewish students held a vigil at the university to honor the worshippers killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue last month. The Rock was painted with a Pittsburgh Steelers logo that included a Star of David and the words “Stronger Than Hate,” the News Sentinel reported.

Two days later, some students noticed The Rock had been defaced to say "Stronger Through Hate," and a swastika had been painted over the Star of David, the newspaper reported.

Police: Man shoots bullets into backyard tree, forcing lockdown of schools

A Massachusetts man shooting rounds into a tree in his backyard prompted two nearby schools to shelter in place and a massive law enforcement response to the neighborhood.

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Thirteen shell casings were found near the tree in Stoneham. Police said they expect to file charges against the man, whose gun was seized by police.

The man admitted to officers that he had taken part in a little target practice in the backyard, and shot some rounds into a tree. 

The Massachusetts State Police Air Wing unit and K-9 unit joined state and local police in their response to the area after several 911 calls reported gunfire around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, police said.

When officers arrived, they saw people running in the backyard, trying to hide a target stand and other items in a nearby shed, police said. 

The incident prompted the high school and the middle school to shelter in place, meaning students and staff were not allowed to leave or enter the building during that time, Stoneham Superintendent of Schools John Macero said in a statement. 

The shelter in place was lifted shortly before 3 p.m. 

'Reprehensible' anti-Semitic flyers found at University of Rochester

Officials at an upstate New York university are trying to determine who created dozens of “reprehensible and cowardly” anti-Semitic flyers on campus, WHAM reported.

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The flyers were found Monday morning on a printer at the University of Rochester’s Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies, the television station reported.

The incident occurred a week after a swastika was left inside an elevator at the university’s Eastman School of Music campus, WHAM reported.

In a statement, University of Rochester spokeswoman Sara Miller condemned the flyers and their message.

"Anti-Semitic messages were faxed to a small number of University departments on Monday,” Miller wrote. “These messages are reprehensible and cowardly, and they are contrary to the University’s values. The University Department of Public Safety is working with law enforcement to actively investigate this incident."

Florida high school security guard sold cocaine, pot, police say

A security guard at a Miami-area high school is accused of dealing cocaine and marijuana while in uniform during school hours, the Miami Herald reported.

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Jamie Green, 43, who works at Felix Varela High School and is a Miami-Dade schools employee, was booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail on Tuesday and charged with multiple counts of cocaine and marijuana dealing, the newspaper reported.

Green is not accused of selling the drugs directly to students, but investigators said they believed he was doing deals at a gas station near the school, the Herald reported.

Detectives raided Green’s house early Tuesday and discovered nearly 30 grams of cocaine, 790 grams of marijuana and more than $2,000 cash, the newspaper reported. It was the culmination of a months-long undercover investigation, the Herald reported.

14 Idaho educators suspended for offensive border wall, ‘Mexican’ costumes

A total of 14 faculty and staff members at an Idaho elementary school have been placed on administrative leave after photos of them dressed as a border wall and Mexicans for Halloween brought the school unwanted national attention. 

The Middleton School District and its Heights Elementary School came under fire last week after the photos of the costumes -- which were posted to the district’s Facebook page -- went viral on social media. Middleton Superintendent Josh Middleton announced the suspensions of those involved at a school board meeting called Saturday to address the controversy, the Idaho Statesman reported

A member of the school district’s crisis team has taken over the duties of principal at the elementary school for the time being, Middleton said in a statement posted to the school’s website

The superintendent said that members of the crisis team will be on hand at the school this week, as will security officers. The district will also start providing cultural sensitivity training for all staff members, beginning Wednesday. 

The Middleton Police Department also added extra patrols and a presence at the school to ensure the children remained safe.

The incident has become the source of dueling petitions, including one established on demanding a proactive approach from the school district. As of Monday afternoon, just over 10,000 had signed the petition.

A petition seeking to save the jobs of Heights’ principal, teachers and staff, had more than 12,000 signatures by the same time period. The person who established the petition wrote that supporters of the group “believe (the incident has) been blown out of proportion, as this was a team building exercise done after school with no students present or involved.”

Middleton said in Saturday’s statement that the school district “is under a microscope,” but that he views the situation as an opportunity for employees to learn and grow. 

“The events of this week, we take very seriously,” Middleton said. “As hard as these events are for ALL involved, we must learn from this and be better as an entire staff for our students, parents and the community we represent.”

The superintendent’s statement echoed the sentiments he expressed Friday, when he apologized in a short video posted to the school district’s Facebook page. The Facebook page has since been made unavailable to the public. 

>> Related story: Idaho superintendent apologizes after teachers dress up as border wall, Mexicans

It was on that same page that the public first glimpsed the photos, which were later deleted but had already been copied and circulated on social media. In one photo, six employees are dressed as pieces of a cardboard wall painted to resemble bricks. 

“Make America Great Again” is spelled out in red, white and blue letters, and one woman has a crown and torch as the Statue of Liberty. Another waves an American flag and a third wears a patriotic-themed hat. 

In a second photo, several employees are dressed in garishly colorful ponchos, sombreros and fake mustaches. They pose and shake maracas for the camera.

The photos prompted outrage across the country, as well as within the Idaho community. The ACLU of Idaho on Saturday published a statement condemning the costumes and urging school district officials to use the incident proactively to engage the school community and the larger community of Middleton to “create a welcoming environment where all students can thrive.”

“Regardless of the intent of a teacher’s actions in the classroom, we must focus on and give weight to the impact of such actions on the students who rely on teachers and other school officials for guidance and support throughout their educational experience” the ACLU chapter’s statement said. “School districts, their staff and other agents have obligations under federal law, state law, and district policies to prevent and protect students, staff, and others from discrimination, bullying, intimidation, and harassment.”

Administrators of the Idaho DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Facebook page also posted the photos last week, describing them as “extremely disheartening” and said that all children have the right to a school that celebrates all cultural backgrounds. 

“Imagine how some of the students felt when they walked into their classrooms on Halloween and saw their teachers (people they look up to) dressed like this?” the statement read. “This is NOT funny. This is heartbreaking. Students deserve better.”

Middleton, who called the costumes “clearly insensitive and inappropriate” on Friday, said he was informed of the photos by a concerned parent. 

Along with the school district’s Facebook page, the administration section of Heights Elementary’s website has also been made unavailable, but a popup window contains the statement Middleton released over the weekend, along with one from the school board. 

“This type of behavior has no place in education and certainly is not tolerated here at Middleton School District,” the school board’s statement said. “This situation is being taken very seriously. We are in full support of our superintendent and administrative staff as a full investigation is being conducted and are awaiting the results of the investigation to assure appropriate disciplinary action is taken.

“We care about each of our students, their education, and their safety. This is an unfortunate incident of very poor judgment. Yet it is not indicative of the Middleton School District or our teachers as a whole.”

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