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Ohio lawmakers could mandate students learn cursive handwriting again

Some Ohio lawmakers want elementary school students to be able to print letters by the third grade and write documents in “legible cursive handwriting” by the time they finish fifth grade. The Ohio House could vote Dec. 5 on a bill to require a return of teaching cursive writing

>> Read more trending news

In February, Ohio House Education Committee Chairman Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, introduced a bill to mandate that kindergarteners through fifth-graders be instructed in handwriting.

RELATED: Cursive returns to Louisiana schools with new law

Schools have dialed back handwriting instruction to make more time for core academic requirements, such as helping struggling readers in first through third grades.

RELATED: What happened last time lawmakers tried to bring cursive back?

Cursive instruction is included in the state’s “model curriculum” for grades 3 and 4 and the State Board of Education passed a resolution in early 2014 in support of teaching cursive. But it isn’t a hard-and-fast requirement.

RELATED: Other states have mandated cursive for public schools

The same bill was introduced in 2015 but failed to pass before the two-year legislative session ended. Advocates of mandating cursive instruction say it helps hone fine motor skills, is needed for signing important records , and comes in handy when reading historical handwritten documents.

Teacher accused of having sex with 16-year-old student in park

A 28-year-old preparatory school teacher was arrested on Friday for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old student in a park last spring, Solebury Township, Pennsylvania, police say.

>> Watch the news report here

Alyssia Marie Reddy, who taught at the Pennington School located in Pennington, New Jersey, came to the attention of police after the Solebury Township department received a report of an alleged sexual assault that took place in the park in the spring of 2017, multiple news outlets are reporting.

>> Special-education teacher accused of sex with student in her classroom

Authorities said Reddy, who currently lives near Baltimore, had sexual intercourse with the student.

She was arrested on charges of institutional sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, criminal use of a communication facility and corruption of a minor, according to a release issued by the Solebury Township Police Department.

The Pennington School where Reddy worked sent a letter to parents saying that it had been “recently made aware of an alleged inappropriate relationship involving a former Upper School teacher of The Pennington School in the 2016-17 school year,” according to a report by the Trentonian.

>> Former 'principal of the year' accused of sex with students

WCAU reported that Reddy gave the student her cellphone number in December of last year and that by February 2017 he was getting messages like, “I want your hands on me.”

The school also said that upon hearing the incident, it quickly made contact with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

Reddy had apparently departed from the New Jersey prep school and was employed at The St. Paul’s School for Girls located in Baltimore County. Her Facebook page said that she is a SPIRITUS Scholars Coordinator and History Teacher there.

The school terminated her employment following her arrest and banned her from the campus. It also deleted references to Reddy from its website, but a Google search showed that she was recently in the staff and faculty directory.

>> Read more trending news

“We have just learned that one of our Upper School teachers, Alyssia Reddy, who joined our faculty this year, has been charged with a felony involving sexual assault of a minor,” Head of St. Paul’s Penny B. Evans said in a letter obtained by WPMT.

“The alleged events took place in Pennsylvania this past school year with a male high school student before she came to St. Paul’s School for Girls. Before today, we had no information suggesting any prior improper conduct by Mrs. Reddy.”

On her Facebook page, Reddy has published many pictures of what appear to be her husband and two children, according to the Trentonian.

She is currently awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania.

Special-education teacher accused of sex with student in her classroom

A special-education teacher at a Butler County, Pennsylvania, school is accused of having sex with a student in the classroom

>> Watch the news report here

Police say Jordan Dominique Ondish, 23, a teacher at Summit Academy in Herman, is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 19-year-old student.

State police said school officials contacted them on Nov. 27 after obtaining a cellphone with sexually explicit text conversations between the victim and Ondish. She is also accused of buying the victim that cellphone, which is against school rules.

Ondish began working at the school, a rehabilitation facility for juvenile offenders, in June.

>> Former 'principal of the year' accused of sex with students

The victim told investigators he and Ondish began talking outside class, and their interaction progressed until they had sex in a classroom twice in November, investigators said. 

"State police investigated this," said Trooper Dan Kesten. "It wasn't a relationship that the two were supposed to have; this was institutional sexual assault."

Police said Ondish admitted to the relationship. School officials had previously issued a warning to her about the victim, including having the victim in her classroom after hours.

>> Read more trending news 

Summit Academy released this statement Monday afternoon.

"The administration at Summit Academy was made aware of an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student and it was immediately reported to the state police. The teacher was then terminated."

Troopers said Ondish told them she was in an abusive relationship at home and developed an emotional attachment to the student.

She is charged with institutional sexual assault and faces a preliminary hearing in February.

Florida man arrested, allegedly drew violent school scene on child's homework

A Florida man has been arrested and charged after authorities said he drew an image of school violence on a student’s homework assignment.

>> Read more trending news

School staff sparked an investigation after seeing a drawing that included a schoolhouse on fire, a person appearing to hold a gun next to the words “Pew Pew Pew” shooting at a line of people, another person on fire next to the words “AHHH! It burns!” and two people on the ground in what appears to be a pool of blood, the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office said.

>> On PalmBeachPost.com: Florida man revives fish, but still on hook for arrest

Authorities said Robert Paul Alexander Edwards, 33, drew the image and they arrested him Friday, charging him with writing threats to kill or do bodily injury.

>> On PalmBeachPost.com: Mop-wearing Florida man looking for eggs 'terrified entire family'

Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison said investigators don’t think Edwards had any plan to follow through on the threat.

Substitute teachers accused of forcing students to crawl on asphalt track as punishment

Police are investigating reports that two substitute teachers at a Texas middle school caused children to injure their hands Thursday by forcing them to crawl on an asphalt track during a physical education class, said Florence Police Chief Adam Marsh.

Charges have not been filed, Marsh told the Austin American-Statesman.

>> Read more trending news

Marsh said he has seen blistering and bruising on the hands of four children, who were in a sixth-grade class at Florence Middle School. He declined to release the names of the two teachers being investigated.

READ: Georgetown preschool teacher accused of slapping 4-year-old

Marsh said two sets of parents filed complaints with the police at 6 p.m. Thursday saying their children were forced to do bear crawls around the track. A bear crawl is done on the hands and feet without the knees touching the ground. The exercise is used for endurance and strength-building, Marsh said.

Police are continuing to investigate the case, which involves many children, he said. They will submit their findings to the Williamson County District Attorney’s office to see if charges should be filed, Marsh said. He said Child Protective Services also is involved in the investigation.

He declined to comment further on the case.

Lisa Block, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said the state agency is working with the police to investigate the incident.

One of the parents who filed a complaint with police, Nancy Gonzalez, spoke through an interpreter during a phone interview with the Austin American-Statesman Thursday.

Gonzalez said that when she picked up her 11-year-old daughter from school Thursday, her daughter had bruised hands. Gonzalez said her daughter told her that two substitute teachers forced her and her class to run and do bear crawls for half an hour around an asphalt track as punishment for what another student had done.

Gonzalez said she was “horrified” to see her child’s injuries and went to the school office to talk to someone, but that an official there wouldn’t talk to her.

Florence School District Superintendent Paul Michalewicz said Friday school officials are cooperating with police and also are conducting their own investigation. He declined further comment.

Teacher removed after bragging he failed students who didn’t stand for pledge

A New York state high school teacher has been removed from the classroom by his district after bragging on Facebook last month that he once failed two students because they refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Newsday reported that Steven Solomon, a health teacher at Uniondale High School, was reassigned on Nov. 15 after several residents complained to the school board about his social media post. Uniondale is a small community on Long Island. 

“The school district is aware of a teacher posting on social media about a situation involving grades and standing for the Pledge of Allegiance that occurred more than a decade ago,” Uniondale Superintendent William Lloyd said in a statement obtained by Newsday. “The District has taken the proactive measure of assigning this faculty member to out-of-classroom duties until further investigation into the matter can be completed.”

Solomon told New York City’s WABC-TV that the students “failed themselves.”

“They had less than a passing grade, and that, combined with poor behavior, which included -- part of it was they didn’t stand for the pledge, they said they didn’t care if these military people lived or died,” Solomon told the news station.

The longtime teacher said the students disrespected him, themselves and their families. 

“They had many behavioral write-ups. So, it was a combination,” Solomon said. “What am I supposed to do, reward kids with a failing grade who have poor discipline?”

The Facebook comment obtained by WABC-TV showed, however, that Solomon told a friend he ordinarily would have passed the students, despite the failing grades.

“Well, I know God has a sense of humor because both of these unpatriotic kids ended up with a 63 (average), and under ordinary circumstances I would have passed them both,” Solomon wrote. “Instead I failed them both.

“Well, the next year, miraculously, I had them both back in my homeroom class and, when I asked the class to stand, these two suckers were the first up! True story!”

Solomon wrote in the comment that he went against his principal’s orders when he tried to make the teens stand. 

“(The students) went to the principal complaining I couldn’t legally make them stand. The principal told me not to make them stand,” he wrote

The teens were within their legal right to refrain from standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. A 1943 Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia -- West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette -- protects students from having to say the pledge in school.

“I told the students standing for the flag was showing respect for the men of the military who risked their lives to protect our freedoms,” Solomon wrote in the Facebook comment. “They said, ‘We didn’t ask them to.’”

Solomon wrote that when the students refused to stand again the following day, he threatened their grades.

“I told them that is true, and that what makes this country great is ‘that I didn’t have to pass them, either,’” he wrote. 

>> Read more trending news

Solomon denied that he failed the students solely because they didn’t stand for the pledge and said he was “goofing off to a friend” when he wrote the post, WABC-TV reported

“I thought this just went to him,” Solomon told the news station. “This person said, ‘Teachers don’t teach respect anymore, don’t have kids stand for the pledge anymore.’ And I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s not true.’”

He said the students were “not choir kids,” but were teens who said they didn’t care if military members lived or died. 

“I never put down any kid I ever taught,” Solomon said. “I bring kids up. I build the kids up. I regret that that came out. That was meant for one person to read. Not everyone.”

He questioned the district’s decision to remove him from his classroom.

“Because I want kids to have respect and stand for the pledge and have respect for people in this country, they want to try to suspend me and fire me?” Solomon said. “What message does that show?”

Newsday reported that Solomon has taught in the Uniondale district for 30 years. 

Solomon is not the only educator to come under fire in recent months for trying to force students to stand during the pledge. The Midland, Texas, school district found itself facing questions in September after juniors and seniors at Midland High School attended a presentation that included a PowerPoint slide that stated it was the law to stay standing during the pledge

In the weeks following the controversy, Midland Independent School District officials clarified that Texas law requires the inclusion of the pledge and a moment of silence each school day, but stated that the district’s policy has provisions allowing parents to opt their children out of participating. 

Woman faces felony charge after putting recorder in daughter’s backpack to prove bullying

A Virginia woman faces up to five years in prison if she is convicted of putting a digital recorder in her daughter’s backpack to prove the girl was being bullied at school. 

Sarah Sims, of Norfolk, told WAVY-TV that she tried multiple times to contact administrators at Ocean View Elementary School about the bullying her 9-year-old daughter was experiencing. When she got no response, she said, she took the matter into her own hands.

“If I’m not getting an answer from you, what am I left to do?” Sims told the news station.

Sims said she put the recorder in her daughter’s bag with the hope that it would capture audio of what her daughter was dealing with in the classroom. The recorder was discovered by school staff.

The girl was moved to a new classroom and, about a month after the incident, Sims was charged by police, WAVY-TV reported

Sims is charged with the use of a device to intercept oral communications, which is a felony. She is also charged with misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Norfolk Public Schools has a policy against electronic devices in its elementary schools, the news station reported. 

>> Read more trending news

Sims said she was “mortified” by the charges.

“Next thing I know, I’m a felon,” Sims said. “Felony charges and a misdemeanor when I’m trying to look out for my kid. What do you do?”

Sims’ attorney, Kristin Paulding, told WAVY-TV that the charges were a stretch. 

“They aren’t making this about that classroom. There are charges that carry jail time,” Paulding said. “Instead of comforting her (about the alleged bullying), she’s going to a magistrate and being handcuffed.”

Sims is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in January. In the meantime, the mother said she is most bothered by the lack of response she received on her daughter’s complaints of being bullied.

“I tried to be fair, but it’s not fair,” Sims told WAVY-TV. “There is nothing fair about this.”

Officials with the school district declined to comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation. 

 

Teacher told student to 'go back to Mexico,' protesters say

4 p.m. CST Wednesday: Several students who walked out of Fulmore Middle School in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday told the Austin American-Statesman they were protesting because a teacher in a Social and Emotional Learning class told a student, who was speaking Spanish at the time, to “go back to Mexico.”

The teacher made the statement about two weeks ago, according to students who were in her classroom at the time, and some Fulmore students felt that administrators did not adequately address what this teacher said.

In a letter to the school’s community, Fulmore Principal Lisa Bush acknowledged that "an adult staff member made an insensitive statement to a student. Comments such as that are not tolerated at any level and appropriate actions were taken."

>> Read more trending news

Bush’s letter did not specify what was said nor what action was taken.

Multiple students said the school building was damaged during the protest. Students mentioned a window was broken, part of a fence was knocked down and a ceiling tile in a hallway was punched.

At least one school board member commented on the situation. 

“I am confident the superintendent and his team are gathering the facts and responding appropriately,” said school board member Geronimo Rodriguez, who represents South Austin. “I expect a quick response. This is a teachable moment for our diverse community regarding our culture of treating people with dignity and respect.”

ORIGINAL STORY: A group of students walked out of the Fulmore Middle School building as part of a protest Wednesday, according to school officials.

School officials said students are now back in their classrooms.

Texas State fraternity death likely to result in criminal charges

The death of a Texas State fraternity pledge after an off-campus social event will likely result in criminal charges based on a preliminary review of evidence, San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp told the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV Tuesday.

>> Read more trending news

“I think it is pretty likely we are going to have some kind of criminal case,” Stapp said. “Once we know the complete picture, we will have to have discussions with the district attorney on the most appropriate course of actions. It’s not going to be overnight by any means.”

The death comes about a week after the national chapter of Phi Kappa Psi ordered the Texas State chapter to cease its social activities because of an on-going investigation, university officials confirmed Tuesday. Texas State had launched an investigation Oct. 4 based on a complaint it had received in late September. The university would not disclose the nature of those allegations.

>> Related: Texas State suspends all fraternity, sorority activities after death of Phi Kappa Psi pledge

Stapp said it likely will take a month to six weeks before a decision is made because officials will want to wait for a full autopsy, which he said will be a critical piece of evidence in the case and would show the blood alcohol level for 20-year-old Matthew McKinley Ellis, who was pledging Texas State’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

San Marcos police say Ellis was dead when friends found him around 11 a.m. Monday. The university said he had attended a fraternity event off campus. The university on Tuesday suspended all Greek activity.

“Any death in our community we take seriously and especially the death of a young person like this who had so much ahead of him,” Stapp said. “In any case like this, if there are appropriate charges that can be proven, the intent is to file them,” Stapp said.

Under Texas law, hazing is a Class A misdemeanor unless it results in a death, in which case the charge can be elevated to a felony.

Texas State suspends all fraternity, sorority activities after death of Phi Kappa Psi pledge

Police on Tuesday were investigating the death of a Texas State University sophomore and fraternity pledge, authorities at the university said.

>> Read more trending news

Texas State President Denise Trauth confirmed in a statement Tuesday that Matthew McKinley Ellis, a Phi Kappa Psi pledge, died after attending an off-campus fraternity event, and she announced an immediate suspension of activities of Greek fraternity and sorority chapters at Texas State.

“These chapters are prohibited from holding new-member events, chapter meetings, social functions, and philanthropic activities until a thorough review of the Greek affairs system is completed,” Trauth said.

University spokesman Matt Flores said Ellis, 20, was a business administration sophomore from Humble.

Police said he was pronounced dead at 12:28 p.m. Monday after medics responded to the off-campus Millennium apartments. Friends discovered him a little after 11 a.m. and first responders got the 911 call at 11:35 a.m., officials said. 

Police believe Ellis was a pledge for Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, based on interviews with those at the scene, San Marcos police said.

According to a preliminary police investigation, alcohol may have been a factor in Ellis’s death, but his autopsy is still pending, police said. The University Star, Texas State’s student newspaper, said Ellis died after his fraternity’s initiation. 

Joanne Smith, vice president for student affairs, is in charge of conducting the review and proposing recommendations for reinstating fraternity and sorority chapters “that demonstrate a commitment to the core values of Texas State and the ideals established by their respective national organizations,” Trauth said. “It is imperative that our entire university community develop a culture that places the highest priority on the safety of its students, faculty, and staff.”

Ellis is the second Texas State student to die since the winter of 2016 after attending an off-campus Greek event. Four Texas state fraternities were handed suspensions in January, ranging from two to five years, for alcohol violations stemming from a party last year in which a 20-year-old student was fatally struck and dragged by a bus near Martindale.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

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