School Safety Headlines From Around the World

From the April 2012 Issue of The Safety Net:

Drum Major dies after alleged hazing  – Tallahassee, FL

Robert Champion Jr., a 26-year-old Florida A&M University student and drum major died after a suspected hazing incident. Champion’s death, caused by severe bleeding, is still under investigation.  Florida A&M University has suspended the band after this incident.  Since Champion’s death, parents have come forward saying that they had made complaints.  No arrests have been made, nor criminal charges filed.  For months prior to Champion’s death, stories about hazing in the band had been circulating.  Although the band’s director, Dr. Julian White, implemented initiatives to help stop hazing in the band, leaders in the band allegedly continued to participate. Students have said Champion was “crossing bus C” when he died, a “rite of passage” in which a new section member is beaten while walking from the back to the front of a bus. Deaths involving hazing are a third-degree felony in Florida.,0,6708845.story


Family says immigrant student killed himself over fears he’d never be allowed to go to college – Mission, TX

Joaquin Luna, 18, committed suicide on the Friday after Thanksgiving, feeling he would never be able to go to college in the United States, because he was in the country illegally.   His brother found him in the bathroom after hearing a gunshot.  Luna left letters that said he was afraid about being in the country illegally, and began to loose hope after the Dream Act did not pass in Congress.  The Dream Act was a proposed national plan that would make young immigrants legal citizens if they have been in the United States for more than five years and they attend college or serve in the military.  The Dream Act is estimated to benefit about 2 million young people if it is ever passed. (Video)


Seven teens charged with beating classmate unconscious – Ocala, FL

Seven teens, aged 12 to 15, were charged with battery and disorderly conduct after punching and kicking a 13-year-old on a school bus until she was unconscious in Ocala, Fla.  The victim said no one would let her sit down since it was her first time riding the bus, and then someone threw a shoe at her.  The victim threw a shoe back and other teens formed a circle and began to attack the victim.  Witnesses said  the victim fell on the floor, had a seizure and passed out.  The victim was taken to a hospital and diagnosed with a concussion, severe bruising and muscle spasms.


9-year-old arrested in school – Fort Myers, Florida

A 9-year-old was arrested in Fort Myers, Florida  after a fit of rage resulted in police bringing felony charges against her.  The student jumped out of her school bus after spitting at staff members and becoming aggressive.  The student then started to pick up and throw pieces of asphalt at the bus before walking into a nearby yard and throwing a metal chair at a responding deputy.  Harris resisted when the deputy told her she was under arrest.  Because the charges are felonies, the 9 year old was identified to the public.


High school wrecked by tornadoes – Indianapolis, IN

Henryville High School in southern Indiana won a free concert by country music stars Lady Antebellum after tornadoes damaged their school during recent severe weather outbreaks in the state.  The school won after many other schools from the surrounding area submitted YouTube videos asking the band to support the high school in their “Own the Night” contest.  Lady Antebellum is a Grammy-Award winning country trio.  The winning video was entered by Silver Creek High School, one of the winning school’s biggest rivals. This is a touching story that demonstrates that there are still a lot of good people in the world.


Driver evacuates students off bus, saving them from fire – Charlotte, NC

Lindora Richardson successfully evacuated students from her bus after noticing smoke inside the bus during her afternoon route.  Richardson noticed a “burning smell” and after pulling over, saw smoke coming from the dashboard of the bus.  A YouTube  eyewitnesses video shows smoke and fire erupting  out of the bus after Richardson led the elementary school students out of the back emergency exit door.  Because of her quick response there were no injuries. (Video)


From the Spring 2012 Issue of The Safety Net:


Maryland adds Environmental Literacy in High Schools

The state of Maryland has added environmental literacy as a new requirement for high school students to graduate.  Since the requirement was created by the State Board of Education rather than state legislature, it doesn’t give specific or guidelines for curriculum.  This allows local school boards to decide how this is used in schools.  Response from government officials is mixed – while some appreciate the need to students to learn about emerging technologies that allow for more efficient and cleaner use of resources, others fear that the lack of guidelines on curriculum will leave the mandate vulnerable to wasteful allocation of classroom resources.


Estranged parent shoots wife, step-daughter – Conyers, Georgia

Terence Sherod Roberson was charged with of two counts of aggravated assault for shooting his wife and step-daughter at a day care in September.  The shooter waited for his wife and stepdaughter outside the Little Mountain Christian Academy during morning drop off, and began shooting when he saw them.  Roberson shot his wife, a kindergarten teacher,  and his 10-year-old stepdaughter several times.  The shooter was already on probation for abuse towards his wife.  Kimya Roberson had just filed for divorce from her husband, and the two had been separated for a year. Both she and her daughter were seriously injured.  After the shooting, counselors were called to help at both the school Mrs. Roberson worked at and the elementary school her daughter attends.  The shooter surrendered to Sheriff’s deputies later that day, telling them his life was “falling apart.”


Washington Teachers agree to a deal to end strike –  Tacoma Washington

The Tacoma Education Association voted for a new contract after seven hours of negotiations at the Governor’s office. A resolution came after union negotiations from May 31 to September 1, and  a strike in September in which 1,900 teachers participated, forming picket lines and resisting court orders to stop.  The union and the district compromised to create a panel of teachers and school officials to create standards for staffing reassignments, along with compromises on other demands, such as class size and salary.  Multiple sources report that almost 99% of the teachers voted in favor of resolving the disagreement. The teachers will need to make up days lost during the strike in the future, and it is unclear whether citations or tickets issued during the strike will still be upheld.


Student’s face cut on school bus – Orlando, Florida

Lavaughna Christian, a 9th grade student at Evans High School,  was stabbed on her face, arm, back and chest during a bus ride home in October.  Witnesses reported that a 9th grader, who Christian regarded as a “friend,” teased the victim and called her names, before starting a fight because the victim was walking too slowly departing the bus, telling the victim to “hurry and walk.”  Bystanders attempted to help and pull the girls apart without success.  Another student captured the fight on a cell phone camera.  A judge ordered the 14-year-old attacker,   who is is charged with aggravated battery, to remain in juvenile detention.  Witnesses describe the attacker as a “quiet and regular” girl.


Recent study says Soda May Cause Teen Violence – US

In a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center and published in Injury Prevention, researchers found that there was a strong relationship between the number of soft drinks students  drank and the number of fights they participated in.  This corresponds to findings from a study done in Norway in 2006.  Researchers used results from 1,800 students in Boston public schools covering many topics.  Subjects had questions about how many non-diet soda they drink in a week, if they had been violent to others, and if they carried a knife or gun.  Almost 30% said they drink about five cans of soda each week.  Only 23% of subjects that drink less than one soda a week said they carry a weapon.

Gang-related school shooting  – Fayetteville,  NC

18-year-old Ta’Von McLaurin and a unnamed 15-year-old were taken to Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office after shooting 15-year old Catilyn Abercrombie in the cafeteria of Cape Fear High School during October.  The shooting left Abercrombie in critical condition,  and a whole school population nervous about gang violence at their school.  Reports say parents and students had been complaining about  possible gang activity for weeks before the shooting, with parents afraid to allow their children to attend school and school events, and student witnesses commented that there had been gang-related fights and Facebook posts shortly before the shooting.  Police found a weapon  and a shell casing on  school campus.


Ohio gym teacher convicted of having sex with 5 students -Springboro, Ohio

Stacy Schuler, a high school gym teacher at Mason High School in Springboro, Ohio, was convicted  in October of having sex with five high school students, including some football players.  Schuler was sentenced to four years in prison for having sex with Mason High School students in Springboro, Ohio.  Victims testified that Schuler initiated much of the contact, drinking and providing alcohol to them.  Although some students testified for Schuler, victims and their families commented on the negative emotional impact of these events, and how they affect perceptions of teachers nationwide.  The high school was shut down for a week during the trial.


Former teacher gets 30 years in prison for child pornography –  Alexandria, Virginia

After being  jailed in April without bond, Justin Coleman, a former fourth grade teacher at John Adams Elementary School, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for two counts of producing child pornography. Coleman led a secret life that included secretly filming students and altering child pornography with images of his students.  Coleman told officials that he liked girls between the ages of 7 and 11.  An Assistant U.S. Attorney said Coleman also engaged in child pornography while teaching at a U.S. military school in Japan, and during a school trip to Italy.  Coleman had more than 2,500 images of altered child pornography and at least 74 videos he recorded in classrooms.

Barry Manilow donates  $300,000 worth of musical instruments – Joplin, MO, USA

Several pianos, brass, and woodwind instruments were donated by Barry Manilow to Joplin High School in Missouri to help replace instruments lost during a devastating EF-5 tornado in May.  The instruments were donated through his six year old  Manilow Music Project, which helps schools that have undergone funding cuts.  He also hopes to help replace lost sheet music in the future.


Southern Sudanese schools will teach in English – Sudan, Africa

South Sudan, which voted in July to break away from the mostly Muslim northern part of Sudan, is mandating that English be the main language for teachers in primary and secondary schools, rather than Arabic.  This is one of many changes aimed at distancing the mostly Christian south from the Muslin dominated north, which repressed the southern Sudanese, notably in a fierce civil war.  Authorities hope this change will make it easier for students to continue their education at schools in surrounding countries.


College Board says university costs exceed inflation – US

According to the College Board, the cost of college in the United States rose for the 2011-2012 school year.  The Board’s study stated that 4-year schools average tuition and fees rose 8.3 percent to $8,244 for in-state students and 5.7 percent to $20,770 for out-of-state students.  Private nonprofit four-year schools raised tuition 4.5 percent.  The Consumer Price Index increased 3.6 percent between July 2010 and July 2011.  Though the College Board said Financial aid also rose in a companion report, it was not enough to cover increases in tuition and fees at four-year public schools. In addition to this news, starting this fall, colleges are now required to put new net-price calculators on their web sites. These  prices should include estimates of student’s total cost of attendance including extra fees and housing.

Teacher makes false school bomb threat – Denver, Colorado

Denver elementary school teacher Jennifer Gomes is charged with one count of false reporting of explosives at Escuela de Guadalupe, a Catholic elementary school in northwest Denver.  Gomes put a threat in the form of a note saying “there is a bomb inside” outside the the school’s main entrance.  Though released on bond, Gomes faces a felony charge in Denver County Court.

Chicago Tribune: Newtown Tragedy Sparks Emergency Response


Students redecorate rundown shop with mural – Lincoln ,UK

After asked about improving their neighborhood, local students decided to paint a mural over a vacant shop window they highlighted as in need of improvement.  The mural features various fruit and different juice varieties.  The City Counsel says the mural can stay up as long as the community wants it.  The mural was created for a City of Lincoln Council project to create murals in the community during half-term break.


Schools not neglected during Greek economic crisis – Athens, Greece

Despite recent economic and social turmoil in Greece, government Socialists and opposition Conservatives agreed to reform university funding in August.  In Greece, most university students take longer than four years to graduate.  Also, because of a former law that did not allow police to enter  university property, students participated in drug-dealing and storing weapons on university campuses.  A new law states that students have no say in electing administrators, have a four-year deadline for earning degrees, and that police are allowed to go on campus.  Although there are some that oppose the new reforms, many are optimistic that they will correct long standing problems in the university system that kept many secondary educations students from staying in Greece.  Currently, Greece spends more money per student than most other European Union nations, despite having a poor educational system.


Turkey suffers Magnitude 7.2 Earthquake – Van, Turkey

A massive earthquake that hit the cities of Van and Ercis in Turkey has caused major destruction of property and loss of life.  The number of casualties continues to rise, with more than 600 confirmed dead as of this writing.  Thousands of structures have been destroyed in the quake leaving most survivors to stay in tents provided by the government.  Psychologists have been assigned to help  almost 1,000 children affected by this disaster.  Greece has slowly accepted foreign aid, despite their initial announcement that they would try to handle this crisis on their own.


Attorneys want national high school exam results canceled – Ceará State, Brazil

Brazilian government attorneys in the state of Ceará have filed a lawsuit calling for the annulment of the 2011 National High School Exam that took place nationwide on the weekend of Oct 22-23.  Almost 5 millions students took the test.  Attorneys found that 14 questions appeared exactly as they they did in a study booklet that had been given out to a high school before the test.  This practice test should have been returned to the INEP (Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisas Educacionais) for destruction.  Instead, the study test was kept by the school.  In response, the Ministry of Education  announced that it is canceling the tests taken by students at the high school where the practice test was distributed and that it will appeal attempts to cancel test results from other sources.


Teachers, other public workers strike –  Buenos Aires, Argentina

Teachers , doctors, and public transportation workers have been participating in strikes in Buenos Aries to protest government policy changes and lack of funding for their public agencies.  Doctors are seeking better funding for the health system and better salaries, while Teachers are also seeking higher salaries along with wanting to have their profession privatized.  Teachers in particular participated in an 48 hour strike in October, marching to City Hall in Buenos Aries, despite multiple sources reporting a warning from the mayor that “all those days lost because of the strike will be compensated in December.”  Workers unions, including the Union of Education Workers (UTE), participated in and helped organize the strikes.


Solar-Powered Internet for Rural Schools-  Cape Town, South Africa

A Solar Powered Internet School has been introduced by Samsung Africa and is being tested at the Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy.  The mobile classroom is designed to be solar-powered, mobile, and completely independent to aid accessibility to education in Africa since many rural areas do not have electricity or internet.  Each Internet School, designed to hold 21 students, can be transported by truck to non-urban areas, and is powered by solar panels made from rubber rather than glass for durability.  The school has an electronic E-board, Samsung Notebooks and Netbooks, an energy efficient refrigerator, router, Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS), video camera, wi-fi camera, air-purification system, and a file server with the complete South African school curriculum for grades 0-12.


Students assault school and House of Assembly – Lagos, Nigeria

Lagos State University students protested a proposed tuition increase by rushing the doors of the state House of Assembly, and vandalizing property.  A committee comprised of student’s union members, Education ministers, and Institution faculty has been meeting to decide how much students should pay for tuition.


Libya’s Schools begin new year  during  revolution  –  Tripoli, Libya

Libyan students returned to school Sept 17 after schools closed when civil unrest started in February, sparking the revolution that finally ousted former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.  Many families stayed at home afraid during fighting in Tripoli until the National Transitional Council, anti-Gaddafi rebel leaders, finally took control in August.  Although all schools did not open – there are many changes that need to be made to the education system and the teaching infrastructure after years of autocratic rule– Libyans are optimistic about a new beginning.  Many schools were completely destroyed during fighting, and operating schools are finding ways to give emotional support to students who have suffered as a result of in-fighting.  As the new school year started across Tripoli,  teachers and students celebrated their freedom from having to spend 45 minutes each week teaching from Gaddafi’s “Green Book,” and expressed optimism about opening up secondary education to various fields excluded during the regime.

Historic building damaged in fire – Bangor, Wales

A fire severely damaged an 123 year-old building used for classes in Wales.  Police and fire personnel spent all night battling a large fire that caused serious damage to the school building in Bangor, Wales.  The building, which was the former site of Ysgol Glanadda,  is currently the site of the Bryn Llwydeducation unit, a school for British students years 10 and 11 who don’t attend mainstream schools.  Neighbors and locals expressed sadness at the situation – much of the Victorian building’s main hall and roof were damaged.  There were no injuries