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Substitute teacher kneels for pledge, sparks debate

A school in Littleton, Massachusetts, is addressing parents and students after a substitute teacher knelt Thursday during the pledge of allegiance.

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According to a letter sent out from the Russell Street School’s Principal, Scott Bazydlo, a substitute teacher knelt during the pledge of allegiance. 

"While this topic is timely and does have educational merit, it should be addressed sensitively and age-appropriately by permanent faculty and (should be) inclusive of the beliefs of all children and families,” Bayzdlo’s letter reads. 

>> Related: Donald Trump says NFL anthem protesters should be ‘off the field’ and fired

The principal said students and parents brought the incident to the school’s attention, and the substitute teacher proceeded to talk to students about her political views. 

“The Littleton Public Schools respects the rights of all individuals to participate or respectfully abstain from participating in the Pledge of Allegiance,” the principal wrote. “However, in our roles as educators, it is imperative we provide students all sides of an issue like this and allow them to form opinions with guidance from parents.”

Bazydlo says the move was inappropriate, as the teacher is not a permanent member of the faculty and it was outside the plans of the classroom’s teacher.

Children dismissed from private school because parents have open marriage

Akia Brown released her self-published memoir in February. A few months later, she learned her decision to reveal her life in print would get her children dismissed from their school.

>> Read more trending news 

The book, “Beyond Love,” details Brown’s journey from a single parent in Detroit to her current life as a mother of six in Atlanta who said she is happy in an open marriage with her husband.

It took a few months for news of her book to travel to administrators at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia, where her daughter had been a student for two years and her son was set to begin pre-kindergarten this fall.

In late July, Brown received a call from two administrators at the school. Via speaker phone, they told her that her daughter would not be allowed to return and her son was being denied admission.

Mount Paran is a private Christian, nondenominational, college preparatory day school that serves students ages 3-12. Parents are required to sign a covenant agreement upon enrollment, school officials said. The admission policy states:

The applicant and his/her parents must express a belief of biblical teachings, and a willingness to follow them, as well as student and parent’s affirmation of faith. Parents and students must read and agree to support the Statement of Faith (p. 4-5 in parent/student handbook on MPCS website), commit to uphold Christian principles in their daily lives, and actively participate in a local church body. As a covenant Christian school, MPCS reserves the right to determine whether Mount Paran Christian School is an appropriate placement for the applicant and/or the family. MPCS reserves the right to deny acceptance, terminate, or suspend enrollment of students at the school’s discretion with non-disclosure of reasons.

In this case, the school did give a reason -- Brown and her husband’s open marriage -- but Brown wanted the opportunity to plead her case.

“They haven’t even read the book. I don’t know how they even found out about the book,” Brown said.

She said her daughter, a shy first-grader, was flourishing at Mount Paran and misses her friends. She and her husband had made sure their children were supported academically and socially, she said.

In the book, Brown describes her nontraditional life. Her husband, Brian Maurice Brown, was incarcerated for almost 10 years on drug charges. In 2012, he started BMB Records, which has hosted a roster of hip-hop artists including Charli Baltimore and Ray J.

According to a recent story in the Detroit News, the company has been under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration since 2013. Brian Maurice Brown has not been charged with a drug-related crime.

Over the years, their relationship evolved from husband and wife to one between her, her husband and at least two other women, which they refer to as “wife-in-laws.” In the vein of urban nonfiction, Brown offers salacious details, but she contends the book is about unconditional love.

Brown said she was able to enroll her children in a new Christian school. She told the school administrators right upfront what happened and explained her views, an opportunity she said she never had at Mount Paran.

“Yes, (the book) discusses open marriage – or what others may consider an open marriage – but the real meaning and everything I have ever talked about is unconditional love and having a forgiving heart,” Brown said.

Substitute to student: 'Go back to where you speak Spanish'

A substitute teacher in Charlotte was caught on video Monday telling a student to “go back where you speak Spanish.”

>> Read more trending news

In the nine-second video, students can be heard gasping, shocked at what the substitute teacher at South Mecklenburg High School said Monday morning to a Spanish-speaking student.

“I was like, ‘It's not right. This is racism,’" said a female student who recorded the video and sent it to WSOCTV. The student, who did not want to be identified, said the student was speaking Spanish with another classmate when the substitute teacher told him to stop.

“Go back where you speak Spanish if you don't want to speak English,” the substitute teacher said.

When the student he was speaking to asked if the substitute was being racist, the substitute replied, “I'm racist, right."

Before school dismissed for the day, videos of the exchange had spread through social media to students outside the class.

"For a teacher to just put a student down like that in school where you're supposed to feel safe, it's just not correct," senior Edwin Alarcon told WSOCTV.

In a statement to WSOCTV, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials said the district was looking into the incident and that "CMS is committed to providing a safe, social and emotional environment for learning at all schools for all students and staff."

South Mecklenburg Principal Maureen Furr notified parents of what she called a substitute's verbal exchange with a student. She assured parents that the substitute teacher will no longer be working at the school.

One mother, who didn't want to be identified, said it makes her worry about sending her child back to the school.

"It's intimidating the students," she said. 

WSOCTV is not identifying the substitute teacher, because he is not accused of breaking any laws. Students said he had been a sub for years and had never said anything like that before.

South Mecklenburg High School's principal sent this message home to parents Monday afternoon:

Good afternoon. This is Dr. Furr from South Mecklenburg High School with an important message. An incident occurred this morning in one of our classes, in which a substitute teacher engaged in a verbal exchange with a student over language. The incident was reported to me, CMS has been made aware, and the entire situation is under review.  At South we seek to create a safe and respectful environment for students and staff, and promote respectful interaction for all. We take accusations of bias seriously, and this individual will no longer be working at our school. You may see some news coverage about this situation shared through social media by students today. I wanted to be sure you knew that it is being handled. 

Too sexy? High school dance team's costumes spark controversy

A South Florida high school team is going viral, and it’s not because of their dance moves

>> Watch the news report here

The Miami Northwestern Senior High School’s dance team’s costumes have been stirring up some controversy because some believe they’re too sexy for the young students.

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Several videos of the teens dancing have been posted online, which sparked the debate. 

Some social media users don’t see a problem with the costumes and say people should be focusing on their dancing, not what they’re wearing.

Others thought the outfits looked more like lingerie and were not appropriate for girls 18 and younger. 

However, parents and guardians of the students approved of the costumes and don’t see an issue. 

“If they're dancers, they're entertainers,” one grandparent, Debbie Frasier, told WPLG. “So if you have the same problem, you have the problem with Beyonce or young child stars who dress that way on national television.”

Student finds loophole in professor’s exam instructions, becomes internet hero

A Maryland college student has become an unwitting internet hero after he found a loophole in his professor’s exam instructions that allowed him to bring a note card the size of a human being to class.

Reb Beatty, an assistant professor at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, wrote on Facebook last week that, each year, he allows his accounting students to bring a 3x5 note card filled with notes to class for their first exam. Unfortunately, Beatty was not specific enough about those dimensions.

One student, Elijah Bowen, showed up for the test with a note card measuring 3x5 feet. A photo taken by Beatty shows Bowen’s note card, filled with pages’ worth of both typed and neatly handwritten notes. 

“As precise as I am, apparently I never specified inches, and therefore, yes, it was allowed,” Beatty wrote. “Well played, and lesson learned for me.”

Beatty’s post received more than 33,000 reactions and, as of Tuesday morning, had been shared close to 30,000 times. 

A few days after he initially posted the photo, the professor clarified some issues, particularly whether his method should be considered cheating. 

“Using a 3x5 inch (or foot) card/poster in an accounting course is just as much -- if not more -- a preparatory tool than a test aid,” Beatty wrote on Facebook. “The approach is that the process itself will force the student to organize his/her thoughts, put material into terminology that he/she understands, et cetera. It is NOT cheating, or going easy on students, or however you want to reference it. An accounting exam, designed effectively, requires application of concepts and proficiency in the material, not just regurgitating facts.”

Many of Beatty’s Facebook commenters praised Bowen’s initiative, with at least one person saying that he was “going places” in life. 

“Love this! And the explanations from the teacher,” another woman wrote. “As an educator, and the wife of an accounting student, I agree that organization & meticulous review of concepts prepares students for application. THAT is real life.” 

>> Read more trending news

Bowen also reiterated some of Beatty’s points in an interview with the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, saying that he “figured it would be a win-win either way” because preparing the giant note card would be a good way to study for the exam.   

“I had to refer to the card only a couple of times,” Bowen said. “It was very big. It was more comical than anything.”

The freshman told the Gazette that he wasn’t sure if Beatty would allow the giant note card, so he had a backup 3x5 inch index card, just in case. What he did know, he said, is that he was right about the professor not specifying the exact dimensions of what was allowed. 

He credited Beatty with teaching him to notice tiny details such as that one. 

“The professor is always telling us not to miss details or specifics, since that will throw off entire calculations,” Bowen told the newspaper

He said he just applied that principle to Beatty’s syllabus and notes. 

Beatty allowed the giant note card, but made Bowen sit in the back row so other students could not see his notes, the Gazette reported. Bowen told the newspaper that he passed the test with either a low A or a high B. 

The professor told Buzzfeed News that he’s since updated his syllabus and course instructions with the correct size of the note card allowed during the exam. 

BYU is allowing Coca-Cola, caffeinated soda on campus and everyone is freaking out

On Thursday morning, Brigham Young University announced the university will offer caffeinated soft drinks – including Coca-Cola – on campus and fans couldn’t contain their excitement.

The BYU Twitter account posted the news along with a Q&A with BYU director of dining services Dean Wright on the decision to bring caffeinated soft drinks on the Provo, Utah, campus for the first time since the mid-1950s.

>> Read more trending news

BYU is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints and requires students to adhere to a strict honor code in line with the church’s beliefs. The honor code enforces a mandated dress code, personal grooming standards as well as abstinence from premarital sex, drugs and alcohol.

BYU is the largest religious university and third-largest private university in the United States.

>> Click here or scroll down for more

Texas students told ‘It’s the law’ to stand for Pledge of Allegiance

A presentation telling students that they have to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance because it's the law has caused controversy at a Texas high school, the Houston Chronicle reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Juniors and seniors at Midland High School were given a presentation on the Pledge of Allegiance earlier this month, with a slide saying it's the law to stand during the pledge and stay silent during the moment of silence, KOSA reported.

“It's basically a law,” Seth Ortega told KOSA. “We need to stand to respect our country, and those who died.”

A 1943 Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia -- West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette -- protects students from having to say the pledge.

Lacy Sperry, executive director of communications for Midland ISD, told the Chronicle that the slide "was taken out of context" and that school administrators have addressed the issue. 

"According to the Texas Education Code, Sec. 25.082, we are required to have students recite the U.S. pledge and the Texas pledge at least once a day, and we are required to have a moment of silence following the recitation of pledges," Sperry said via email. "As a protocol, we ask students to stand and remain standing. We honor any parental request for students to opt-out of the recitation of the pledge on any of our campuses." 

According to the Texas Education Code, the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence is required from students daily. Students' parents or guardians can give written permission to have their children excluded.

A week after the controversy began, the Midland ISD released a second statement:

 "Midland ISD received an inquiry from CBS 7 regarding a slide included in a PowerPoint presentation to Midland High School students this week. The information included in the slide if viewed out of context is confusing. However the slide was used as part of a presentation to students detailing the activities during the school day. Texas Law from the Texas Education Code - EDUC § 25.082. School Day; Pledges of Allegiance; Minute of Silence, requires the inclusion of the pledges and moment of silence during the school day. However it is not a mandate for every student. MISD policy includes provisions for parents to request their child be excluded from participating. Once again, nothing has changed. The PowerPoint slide was part of a presentation and described to the audience. Campus administrators have reviewed the slide and rearranged the text to ensure that no one else is confused by the contents of the slide."

Comments supporting and opposing the presentation could be found on KOSA’s Facebook page.

"This is pure propaganda. There is no law stating that you must stand for the pledge of allegiance. This is actually against your freedom of speech. I can choose to stand or not stand," Jayson Brown commented on KOSA’s Facebook page. 

“You have the right to kneel but it's disrespectful to all the people who have died and suffered to give you that right,” Steve Benner said on Facebook.. 

"The pledge is a lovely patriotic poem, but is not embedded in our legal nor political systems at all except as a cultural expression of our love of country," Joanna Tousley-Escalante wrote. 

Deputies: Teacher accused of sex crime exchanged messages via Facebook

A North Carolina middle school teacher was arrested and charged with a sex crime involving a child, officials with the Rowan County Sheriff's Office said.

>> Read more trending news 

Parents of a student complained that Mark Dexter, 42, sent inappropriate messages to their child through Facebook, deputies said.

Investigators determined that it appeared the child and teacher were involved in an online relationship and the messages date to Sept. 9.

Deputies said Dexter was making plans for the child to come to his home, and more than 1,000 messages were exchanged resulting in more than 400 pages of evidence.

Detectives said Dexter admitted to exchanging messages with the student, and some of the messages were sent while at the school from his personal cellphone.

"You send your kids to school and you think they're safe and look, they're not," parent Elizabeth Padgett said.

Dexter is charged with taking indecent liberties with a student by a school guardian following his arrest on Wednesday.

"It definitely needs to stop,” nanny Savannah King said. “That's the problem with social media these days and young children. Sometimes they get into stuff they're not meaning to."

School officials said Dexter was hired at Morgan Elementary on July 27, 2004, and started at Erwin Middle School on Aug. 17, 2005. He taught math and social studies.

Dexter resigned Wednesday.

Dexter's bond is set at $150,000. 

In a statement, Rowan-Salisbury Schools officials said “We are sad and heartbroken any time we receive reports of inappropriate conduct toward any of our students.

“We will continue moving forward in keeping safety a top priority in our schools,” the statement said.

School suspends 5-year-old for making ‘terroristic threats’ about backpack bomb

A California elementary school suspended a 5-year-old kindergartner after he joked that he had a bomb in his backpack, his family said.

KCRA in Sacramento reported that Jackson Riley, of Modesto, was in his third week of school at Great Valley Academy, a public charter school, on Aug. 31 when he refused to take his backpack off. He told his teacher he couldn’t take his backpack off because a bomb inside the bag would explode if he did.

When the teacher asked to look inside the bag, she found nothing dangerous, the news station reported.

Jackson still received a one-day suspension, his father, Ian Riley, said. The letter his parents received stated the boy had “intentionally engaged in harassment, threats or intimidation.” 

“We said, ‘This doesn’t fit, and furthermore, we don’t really feel like our son was threatening you,” Riley told KCRA. “He’s got an imagination. In his mind, he’s being this hero that’s preventing you from being exploded from man imaginary bomb in his backpack.”

The Modesto Bee reported that the school told the Rileys that the code violation best fit what Jackson had done. When the family pointed out that the code applied only to students in grades four through 12, they received a second letter.

The new letter changed the violation Jackson was accused of to making “terroristic threats,” the Bee reported.

“My son never made a threat, never wanted to blow up the school,” Riley told the newspaper

Riley and his wife, Michelle, had a talk with their son about what is proper to say at school and what isn’t, and told him to follow his teacher’s rules -- including taking his backpack off when told to do so.

The suspension didn’t phase Jackson, his parents said. The next day, he was outside picking flowers to bring to his teacher. 

>> Read more trending news

His parents remain upset, however, because they’ve been told that the suspension will remain on their son’s permanent record. They are meeting with school officials on Friday to see if it can be resolved.

Great Valley Academy officials declined to comment on the incident, stating only that the school takes student safety and discipline seriously, the Bee reported

High school under fire after 'slavery lesson' outrages parents

A California high school is enduring harsh criticism after parents say educators took a lesson on slavery too far.

>> Read more trending news

Eighth-grade students at Whitney High School in Cerritos reportedly were forced to role-play as slaves while teachers pretended to be ship captains. Before the students entered the classroom, the teacher bound their hands with masking tape and made them lie on the floor and watch a clip from “Roots,” the San Francisco Gate reported.

>> On Rare.us: Social media backlash prompts video game creators to edit out this controversial scene from slavery education game

One mother took to Facebook to complain about the activity. She said she received an email from the school explaining the exercise and claims that when she complained, the department chair “mansplained the activity” to her and said “he thinks it’s great and will continue.” She also attached emails from the school in which an administrator said the exercise “is from a recognized supplier of curriculum” and that “the exercise is not designed to demean anyone, but to give them a glimpse into something that is very difficult for young people to wrap their minds around.”

>> See the post here

On Monday, school officials announced that they were removing the lesson from the curriculumCBS Los Angeles reported. Students interviewed by the station said that they agree with the decision to pull the activity. Multiple outlets have requested a comment from Whitney High School but have received no response.

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