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Are leggings distracting? Atlanta fifth-graders want dress code changes

Two leggings-clad fifth-grade girls asked the Atlanta school board Monday to change its student dress code, which bans clothing that is “extremely tight” and “distracting.”

>> Read more trending news 

The board is reviewing revisions that would emphasize the dress code must be fairly enforced. Some Atlanta Public Schools students have complained the current rules target girls and want the new policy to drop the word “distracting.” 

“This is a label applied to girls’ clothing. I do not believe that clothing is a distraction. It is just the reaction that matters,” said Falyn Handley, a 10-year-old student at Springdale Park Elementary School, who spoke along with fellow leggings wearer and classmate Ruby Segerman. “I should not be punished for other people’s behavior. I am not a distraction.” 

The dress code rewrite is scheduled to go before the board’s policy review committee later this month and then return to the full board Dec. 4. The board likely will consider final approval in January, said board member Eshé Collins, who leads the policy committee. 

Read more about the proposed dress code changes here.

Quick-thinking teachers save life of boy impaled by pencil

A Florida 8-year-old is alive because of the quick thinking of two teachers who sprang into action when he accidentally impaled himself on a freshly sharpened pencil earlier this month.

Kolston Moradi, a third-grader at Equestrian Trails Elementary School in Wellington, was waiting for his mother to pick him up from school the afternoon of Nov. 1 when he sat down with other students on the floor of the dismissal room. According to the Palm Beach County school district, the weight of his body drove a pencil in the side pocket of his backpack into his arm near the armpit.

“I didn’t really feel anything,” Kolston said in a news release on the district’s website. “But when I went to put (the pencil) in my backpack, I realized it was in me, and I pulled it out.”

Blood immediately started pouring from the wound and onto the floor. The pencil, which was driven about four inches into his body, had punctured an artery.

The frightened student went to Mandi Kapopoulos, a reading teacher who was standing nearby, and showed her his injury, school district officials said. Elizabeth Richards, the school’s Exceptional Student Education (ESE) coordinator, was also nearby and ran to help.

Kapopoulos pulled her arm out of her shirt sleeve and used the sleeve as a tourniquet as Richards, who went to nursing school before becoming a teacher, ran to get gloves so she could apply pressure to Kolston’s wound.

Richards laid on the floor with the boy, applying pressure and keeping him calm as they awaited paramedics. 

“There were hundreds of other kids in the hall, but I didn’t see or hear them,” Richards told school district officials. “I just focused on Kolston. I kept telling him, ‘You’ve got this. It’s going to be OK.’”

>> Read more trending news

Meanwhile, Kolston’s mother, Annalisa Moradi, was outside, waiting her turn in the car pickup line. An administrator called her and asked her to come inside.

“When I saw the ambulance, my heart sank,” Moradi said

Carrying two of Kolston’s siblings, she hurried inside, where teachers tended to her little ones while the school’s principal, Michele Johnson, took Moradi to her son’s side, the news release said.

“At first, I didn’t understand what happened, but as soon as I walked in, I felt like the situation was under control,” Moradi said. “They were calm, and they kept me calm.”

Paramedics who responded to the scene told the mother of four just how dire the situation could have been. 

“The EMT told me that if the teachers hadn’t acted as quickly as they had, my son would be dead,” Moradi said. 

Instead, Kolston’s experience ended with two staples in his arm to close the wound. He was back at school the next day.

Since the freak accident, school administrators and teachers are reminding their charges to always keep their pencils in a pencil case. 

Johnson told district officials that the incident was a first in her career.

“I have been an educator for 28 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Johnson said

District investigating after school video mocking slavery goes viral

A senior at a high school in Washington state is upset about a video featuring her classmates that she says mocks slavery.

Michelle Boyd told KIRO7 she recorded the video this week at Lindbergh High School. For a school project, students performed a song  during which they changed the lyrics to a well-known nursery rhyme.

"Old MacDonald had a slave," the students sang. "E-I-E-I-O. And with that slave he worked all day. E-I-E-I-O."

Boyd explained why she found the video offensive. "I mean I don't think it was necessary for them to make a mockery out of it. Because people did die in slavery. They were raped and beaten and stuff like that. I don't think that is a joke at all," she said.

>> Read more trending news

Boyd confronted the students, but she claims they told her that the teacher gave them permission to perform the song.

Boyd showed the video to her mother, Charrita Tatum, who posted it on Facebook.

Tatum said she learned almost immediately she wasn't the only one who found the video offensive.

"Anytime there's a question, it should have just been nipped in the bud," Tatum said. "I do feel like the teacher's judgment call on this was absolutely incorrect."

"It's disturbing," Renton school district spokesman Randy Matheson told KIRO7. "It's inappropriate and it needs answers."

Matheson says with school out for Veterans Day, the teacher will have to answer for this Monday.

"A teacher should certainly know that checking with students to find out if it's OK is not the way you go about making sure something is appropriate in the classroom," Matheson said.

Michelle and her mother say they want the district to talk to the teacher and the students, three of whom are African-American, to make sure this doesn't happen again at Lindbergh or any other school.

A person named John Snarski on Facebook who claimed to write part of the song said the entire thing has been taken out of context and blown out of proportion. He also said he’s black and alleged Boyd was laughing during the performance.

Florida teacher loses license over ‘naked’ request to student

The state of Florida has permanently revoked the teaching certificate of a girls basketball coach who was fired from Santaluces High in 2015 for sending a 17-year-old student an electronic message that read in part that he wanted to see her naked, according to state and school district records.

>> Read more trending news

While investigators confirmed Garrick Black sent the message, they found no evidence of anything criminal – there were no allegations of physical contact, no allegations of explicit photos being exchanged.

Black said Friday that the accusations were false, “I understand what the police report says. But I just got caught up in something. I was really nervous and scared (when police questioned him). I didn’t have anything to do with that. I didn’t even write that.”

After he lost his job, Black, who said he hasn’t worked in a school since, contends he didn’t realize that the police findings would be used to pursue his teaching certification and that he missed the notifications that were mailed to him. For those reasons, Black said he hasn’t had an opportunity to defend himself against these allegations.

Black, a basketball player at Boynton Beach High almost a decade earlier, had been coaching at Santaluces for a couple of years, but his position was considered part-time or temporary. He did not teach any classes, Palm Beach County School District records show.

When first confronted by investigators about the message sent via Instagram, Black, who is now 28, denied knowing the girl and sending the message, police reported. But Instagram confirmed the source of the message was his account, authorities had a screenshot of the message and Black eventually conceded to sending it, they reported.

It was a friend of the girl’s who alerted an assistant principal to the message and triggered the investigation. The girl, whose name was removed from the report because of her age, said the coach began following her Instagram account in the spring of 2014.

She told police that Black had sent her direct messages through that account a couple of times, once admonishing her for fighting – she’d been suspended for fighting at the time, and another commenting on a picture she posted of a woman in a black tank “who had noticeable piercings on her breasts.” The student told police the message from Black “said something to the effect of ‘Hope is not a picture of you” because, she said he implied, “people might think you’re a freak or hoe.”

When the girl in December posted a photo of herself in shorts and a sports bra, Black messaged again, instructing her to take down the photo because it was inappropriate and made her “look grown.” She fired back that he was not her father and couldn’t tell her what to do. Later, he wrote, “It’s still in my head I want to see you naked …”

On the advice of a friend, the girl then blocked Black from her account. Months later, in March, a student tipped the assistant principal. Black was fired in June 2015.

Florida school offering bulletproof armor for students' backpacks

A private school in South Florida is offering bulletproof armor that students can use to protect themselves from gunfire.

>> Read more trending news

Florida Christian School in Miami-Dade County, which has students ranging from preschool to high school, is offering parents the ability to buy a piece of ballistic armor that can be placed in their child’s backpack, according to the Miami Herald.

“It’s just a tool,” George Gulla, the school’s head of security, told the Miami Herald. “I’d rather be prepared for the worst than be stuck after saying ‘Wow, I wish we would’ve done that.’”

Gulla, who has 27 years of law enforcement experience, was running through safety drills with parents at the school when Alex Cejas, founder of the body armor company Applied Fiber Concepts, suggested the idea.

Cejas created binder-sized armor that can protect students from some bullets, but not bullets from a rifle.

The pieces of armor can be bought by parents at the school for $120.

WATCH: Florida high school principal wows students with dance moves at pep rally

A Florida high school principal's dance moves are getting a lot of attention.

>> Click here to watch

Dr. Mickey Reynolds, who started working as a principal at Lake Mary High School in June, got the chance to dance in front of her students at a pep rally.

“Frankly, I thought they would just die laughing,” she said. “I was not expecting the overwhelming applause. I couldn’t believe it.”

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

Reynolds said she approached Kelly Lupis, the school’s Unity Revolution STEP team coach, with the idea of joining the team for Friday’s pep rally.

Reynolds coached a STEP team before and said dancing holds a special place in her heart.

She said she had no idea she would end up becoming part of the whole routine.

“They taught me the moves and I videotaped them. I practiced a little at home, and then a second practice and third to run through it really quick,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds’ moves were well-received; the crowd went wild over how well she did, and video of the performance quickly went viral.

>> Read more trending news 

A parent posted video of the dance on Facebook, where it’s been shared by more than 30,000 people and viewed more than 2.9 million times. 

“I was very surprised, and then this weekend it kept ticking up in terms of views,” Reynolds said. “The kids have been great. They’ve been very excited. They were part of the whole viral thing too.”

Reynolds graduated from Lake Mary High School in 1986, and her father was the first principal at the school.

“I made it full-circle. I feel like I’ve come home,” she said.

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

The 2015 Ohio “principal of the year” has been indicted on sex charges stemming from alleged relationships with students.

On Friday, a grand jury issued a summons to Chillicothe High School Principal Jeffrey Fisher, charging him with seven counts of sexual battery. The charges relate to two students — then 16 and 17 — who say the teacher had inappropriate contact with them. County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt told the Chillicothe Gazette that he didn’t want to get into the specifics of the charges, but the paper noted that sexual battery charges “include allegations of sexual intercourse.”

The investigation into Fisher began after an Aug. 16 meeting where school officials were informed of the allegations by the local department of family services.

>> Teacher accused of sex with students in cemetery sentenced

In a statement to the Gazette, Fisher’s attorney wrote, “We’ve been aware of these accusations for years, and we’ll be entering a not guilty plea.” He also asked for information from the public that might help exonerate the 35-year-old principal.

Schmidt says the relationships occurred during the 2009-10 and 2011-12 school years and that “certainly with at least one victim, phone records will show substantial telephone and text contact.”

On Friday, Superintendent Jon Saxton sent a letter to parents explaining the situation and saying that as soon as the allegations arose, Fisher was “reassigned” to work from home. He closed by saying it would be inappropriate to discuss the matter further, citing the ongoing case.

>> Teacher sentenced for sex with student claims victim lured her like 'used car salesman'

Fisher has reportedly been on Saxton’s radar for quite some time, and the superintendent has had multiple conversations with the principal about his behavior. In September 2015, the Chillicothe Gazette found that Saxton laid out a list of complaints, saying Fisher’s social media behavior may be crossing the line. In one letter, the superintendent wrote, “In our conversation, you did not seem to understand the importance of separating yourself from relationships with students via messaging and texts.”

A student allegedly told a member of the staff this year about the allegations, and the district released a screenshot of a text conversation in which one possible victim said she retained a lawyer to speak for her. It’s unclear who the parties in the message were, but one wrote, “She could hardly talk to me from crying and saying it’s been seven years trying to get over this.”

>> Read more trending news 

Although Fisher has taken down all his social media profiles, he previously had some eyebrow-raising interactions, the Gazette reported. On Twitter, he reportedly liked a former student’s post about turning 21 and being “sloshed.” On another occasion, he told a student that she was a “10/10," according to the Gazette.

He is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 21. His attorney says he will plead not guilty.

Bathroom cameras at Colorado high school draw criticism

The decision by a Colorado high school to install cameras in its bathroom is being criticized by parents who say that the move violates students’ privacy rights, KDVR reported.

>> Read more trending news

Windsor Charter Academy executive director Rebecca Teeples said the installation of cameras improves safety for students while helping keep the school building secure, KDVR reported.

"We had surveillance cameras in our plans from the very start. It was part of the design of the new wing," Teeples said. "We want to make sure our students are safe and secure."

Trevor Garrett, a parent of three students at Windsor Charter Academy, said the decision violates students' right to privacy.

“The first word that comes to mind is disgusting,” Garrett told KDVR. “I never thought it would be on anyone’s mind to put cameras in bathrooms anywhere.”

Garrett said he also worries about students who might change in the restrooms for after-school activities or other circumstances where students might be exposed outside of the stalls.

“My gut reaction is, I’m a father, I want to protect my children and I’m going to protect any kids in here,” Garrett told KDVR. “I think when we sacrifice privacy for the sake of safety, it’s a very slippery slope.

“At what point does it cross that threshold and violate rights? I think [in this situation] this violates rights.”

Teeples said the cameras will be confined to the school's high school bathrooms because the stalls go from the floor to the ceiling, KDVR reported.

Lawsuit: Teacher taped shut special needs student’s mouth

A teacher taped shut the mouth of a 26-year-old disabled student who wouldn’t be quiet, part of a series of abuses against the woman, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the woman’s parents.

>> Read more trending news

The student’s attorney, Jonathan Marko, told reporters Thursday that over the 10 years she attended classes in the Washtenaw Intermediate School District in Michigan, she suffered “medieval-type torture,” the Detroit Free Press reported.

“She had scalding hot coffee spilled on her, leaving permanent scarring. She was locked into a bathroom by herself,” Marko said. “She was slapped in the face so loud in the school yard that the bus driver across the school yard heard it and reported it to her parents. She was bound and gagged, and she had tape put over her mouth.”

The student has cerebral palsy and cognitive disorders, according to the Free Press. She uses a wheelchair and cannot speak.

According to MLive.com, the student attended High Point School. The school is operated by WISD and serves students with disabilities. Named in the suit were a special education teacher, the school’s principal and WISD, MLive.com reported.

Among the abuses the student suffered, the lawsuit claimed that her teacher, Nesa Johnson, covered her mouth in tape, photographed her and sent a text message of the image to the student’s mother.

“Help. She won’t be quiet!!!!” Johnson wrote in the text message, according to the lawsuit.

Filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, the lawsuit claimed that the student was “physically unable to remove the tape, has trouble breathing and clearing her throat, and breathes out of her mouth,” MLive.com reported.

"To think this is going on in today’s day and age, at an educational institution ... is abhorrent," Marko said, according to the Free Press.

He said the parents brought concerns about possible abuse to the school multiple times over the years, but each time, “The school assured them that they were taking care of it, that (the parents) were overreacting, that whatever was happening, whatever they saw or that was going on, that it was” the student’s fault, the Free Press reported. Her parents kept her at the school because they didn’t realize the extent of the abuse, according to the newspaper.

WISD spokeswoman Emma Jackson told MLive.com that Johnson no longer works for the school district, but she declined to discuss the specifics of the case.

"The Washtenaw ISD wants to assure the parents of our district that we take the health, safety, and education of all of our students very seriously," Jackson told MLive.com in a statement. "As to the subject of this lawsuit, the family did not report this, or any other complaint to the district until nearly a year after it occurred. During that subsequent year, the student continued attending school, in the same classroom, with the same teacher. When we were first informed of the family's concern, we immediately conducted a complete investigation and took appropriate remedial action."

Jackson told the Free Press that Johnson’s supervisor, Anne Nakon, is no longer employed by WISD either. It was not immediately clear if their departures were related to the allegations set forth in the lawsuit.

Nakon had previously told the Free Press that she was told about the allegations several months ago and that she “shared that I was unaware of any misconduct toward this student or any student.

“I would never condone such a behavior and, had I been made aware of or suspected any mistreatment of a student, would have immediately investigated the situation to protect the student," she said.

Coach resigns over inappropriate message accidentally sent to student

A popular high school baseball and football coach said he was forced to resign after admitting he accidentally sent an inappropriate text to a student.

WSBTV’s Mike Petchenik obtained documents from Fulton County Schools that show Cambridge High School’s Miles Martin admitted to sending the text to a student, but that he meant to send it to a friend with the same first name.

WSBTV did not reprint the contents of the text because they are not appropriate for audiences.

>> Read more trending news

Fulton County School spokeswoman, Donna Lowry, said Martin resigned, but that the district would have no comment on the personnel issue.

A fellow teacher reported hearing about the content of the text and a human resources investigation was initiated for allegations of unprofessional conduct.“Fulton County expects professional behavior from their employees at all times,” an investigator wrote in the document Petchenik obtained. “Mr. Martin displayed poor judgment in sending the text message.”

The investigator upheld the allegations against Martin claiming “he failed to report the incident to school administration and follow the FCS Employee Handbook on private social media. Mr. Martin exhibited unprofessional behavior."

Martin sent Petchenik an e-mailed statement about what happened:

I made an error when sending a personal and private message to a trusted friend; to be clear it was an error and not an error in judgment that resulted in the message being delivered to a student. I immediately communicated my error to individual and he acknowledged that the message wasn’t meant for him. I absolutely regret my error, have accepted responsibly for it and apologized to the family involved and thank them for acceptance and understanding. While fully cooperating with FCS during the inquiry, the Chief Talent Officer made clear I could speak to no one else and that he would make my path to a fair hearing of the facts take months if not longer. I made an error, I did nothing wrong, yet I saw no path to a fair decision without it taking months and costing thousands of dollars so I made the personal decision to resign my position, a position I dearly love. To the Bear Family stay with it “All In All The Time”, I miss you every day, once a Bear always a Bear!

A long-time friend and booster of the Cambridge program told Petchenik he believes Martin got a raw deal.

“Coach Martin is a good role model. He’s a young guy,” said John Schafer. “The kids relate to him.”

While Schafer said he doesn’t condone the content of what Martin wrote in the text, he said Martin shouldn’t be punished for it.

“It was certainly not designed nor intended to reach a student,” he said. “He is moving on. He’s being as strong as he possibly can. He’s devastated.”

Petchenik obtained a letter from the family of the teen who received the text. They sent the letter to Fulton County Superintendent Jeff Rose.

"We can all agree that Coach Martin never intended to send this to our son,” the letter reads. "My wife and I do not feel this text shows the type of person Coach Martin is and that his mistake should not affect his ability to coach and teach our boys.”

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