Archives for category: Students

A federal court in North Carolina ruled against a charter school that required girls to wear dresses.

The charter school claimed it was not subject to federal laws against discrimination because it is not a “state actor.” Charter schools frequently claim they are not “state actors” when they violate civil rights laws or labor laws, but simultaneously say they are public schools.

An en banc federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a public charter school in North Carolina violated the equal protection clause when it required girls to wear skirts.

The full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Richmond, Virginia, ruled against Charter Day School Inc. in a June 14 decision. Judge Barbara Milano Keenan wrote the majority opinion.

The Charter Day School required girls to wear skirts, jumpers or skorts based on the view that girls are “fragile vessels” deserving of gentle treatment by boys, the appeals court said.

The school had argued that the school is not a state actor subject to the Constitution, and that the federal law banning discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs did not apply to dress codes.

The appeals court ruled against the school on both arguments.

The 4th Circuit decision is the first by a federal appeals court to recognize that charter schools receiving public funds must abide by the same constitutional safeguards as traditional public schools, according to a press release by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The en banc court and a prior 4th Circuit panel agreed that sex-specific dress codes may violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. But the en banc court went further than the panel when it ruled that the charter school violated the equal protection clause

The school founder had said skirts embody “traditional values” and preserve “chivalry” and respect. Chivalry, the school founder said, is a code of conduct in which women are “regarded as a fragile vessel that men are supposed to take care of and honor.” School board members agreed with those objectives, including the goal of fostering “traditional roles” for children.

“It is difficult to imagine a clearer example of a rationale based on impermissible gender stereotypes,” the appeals court said.

Nine judges agreed with the opinion. Six dissented, in whole or in part, on the grounds that charter schools are not state actors.

Abby Livington of The Texas Tribune reported on the Congressional hearings about the Uvalde massacre. Please subscribe to The Texas Tribune. It is a valuable source of information and insight about the Lone State State.  The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. 


WASHINGTON — Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old in fourth grade who survived the school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, said she covered herself in another student’s blood to trick the shooter into thinking she was already dead.

Cerrillo, wearing a sunflower tank top and her hair pulled back into a ponytail, spoke softly as she answered questions for 2 minutes on video about what she endured that day in the classroom, just a few weeks after she witnessed her friends and teacher die in a deadly school shooting.

“He shot my teacher and told my teacher good night and shot her in the head,” she said in the prerecorded video. “And then he shot some of my classmates and the white board.”

Cerrillo was the youngest of a small group of Uvalde survivors and family members who testified at a House hearing Wednesday about the devastation wrought by gun violence in their communities.

On May 24, an 18-year-old gunman armed with two assault rifles entered the school building killing 19 children and two teachers and injuring 17 others.

That day Cerrillo said she and her classmates were watching a movie. Her teacher received an email and then got up to lock the door — that’s when made eye contact with the gunman in the hallway, Cerrillo said.

At that point, the teacher told the students to “go hide.” Cerrillo hid behind her teacher’s desk among the backpacks. The shooter then shot “the little window,” presumably part of the door to the hallway. She said the gunman entered a neighboring classroom and was able to access her classroom through an adjoining door. That’s when he started shooting.

One of the students who was shot, a friend of hers, was next to her among the backpacks.

“I thought [the gunman] was going to come back to the room, so I grabbed the blood and I put it all over me,” she said.

She said she “stayed quiet” and then she grabbed her teacher’s phone and called 911.

“I told [the operator] that we need help and to send the police [to my] classroom,” she said.

Cerrillo added that she did not feel safe in school and did not “want it to happen again.” An off-camera questioner asked if she thought a shooting like this will happen again and Cerrillo affirmatively nodded.

Cerrillo was calm and quiet. She didn’t cry. But some of the adults from Uvalde who testified wept before the committee, including her father, Miguel Cerrillo, who traveled to Washington to testify in person.

“I come because I could have lost my baby girl, but she’s not the same baby girl I used to play with,” he said, adding that “schools are not safe anymore.”

Kimberly Rubio, a newspaper reporter and the mother of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio, who died that day, described dropping her children off at the school and attending end-of-school-year awards ceremonies that morning.

“I left my daughter at that school and that decision will haunt me for the rest of my life,” she said, as she testified in a video recording sitting next to her stone-faced husband, Felix Rubio.

She called for a ban on assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, raising the age to purchase certain guns, keeping guns out of the hands of people deemed to be a risk to themselves or others, stronger background checks and to repeal gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.

“We understand for some reason to some people, to people with money, to people who fund political campaigns, that guns are more important than children,” Rubio said. “So at this moment we ask for progress.”

Dr. Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician, Uvalde native and graduate of Robb Elementary School, described in the hearing room his encounter with the bodies of two deceased children that arrived at his hospital.

The children’s bodies were “pulverized,” “decapitated” and “ripped apart.” The bullets did so much damage to their bodies that the “only clue as to their identities was a blood-splattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them, clinging for life and finding none.”

He added that he and other hospital personnel braced that day for an onslaught of carnage, but it never came because so many of the victims were already dead.

The San Antonio Express-News reported what several children said about the carnage in their classroom. The Houston Chronicle said that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who opposes gun control, wants the state to spend $50 million in bullet-proof shields.

As Salvador Ramos approached Room 112 in Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School, the teacher and her students heard gunshots.

She told the fourth-graders to get down on the floor or under their desks, and she went to the door to make sure it was locked. Then Ramos fired at the door handle. Rounds from his assault-style rifle shattered the door window and struck the teacher, fatally injuring her as she tried to protect her kids.

“It’s time to die,” Ramos declared as he entered the classroom. “You guys are mine.”

Ramos at one point asked if anyone needed help, and when one child stood up, he shot him.

These details of the first minutes of the May 24 rampage are from a 10-year-old boy who was in the classroom and who has described the scene to his mother and to law enforcement officials.

“Creepy music” blared from Ramos’ phone as the 18-year-old high school dropout opened fired on the class, the boy recalled. His mother, Corina Camacho, said shrapnel struck her son in the leg.

Then Ramos walked to the connected classroom next door, Room 111, and opened fire again.

“He was like going back and forth, playing music,” the mother told the San Antonio Express-News.

The terror continued for over an hour. It would be more than 75 minutes after the first 911 calls before members of a Border Patrol tactical unit went into the classrooms and killed Ramos. By then, 19 students and two teachers — Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia — were dead. Seventeen other people were injured. It isn’t clear which teacher was killed when Ramos shot through the door.

On ExpressNews.com: Morning of chaos: A reconstruction of how the Uvalde massacre unfolded

The Express-News’ account of the early minutes of the rampage is based on interviews with law enforcement sources, state lawmakers, Corina Camacho and civil lawyers who represent surviving children and teachers.

Camacho’s son told his story to the FBI recently. He is one of several witnesses who were interviewed by the FBI, the Texas Rangers or the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The information from the lawyers and law enforcement sources helps shed light on the tragedy and the disastrous police response that followed. Key details remain unknown to investigators as they try to reconcile incomplete or contradictory statements from witnesses and law enforcement officers.

The massacre in the rural town of more than 15,000 is the second-worst mass shooting at a school, after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which killed 26. President Joe Biden visited Uvalde last week to comfort the families, and in a televised speech days later, he renewed calls for tighter gun restrictions, including a ban on assault-style rifles.

Frozen with fear

The morning of Tuesday, May 24, began like any day near the end of the school year. Some classes at Robb Elementary had just come in from recess. Others had just let out for lunch. Summer break would begin in two days.

Teacher Emilia Marin had propped open a door with a rock to help a co-worker bring in food for an end-of-the-year party from a car in the school parking lot. Then Marin saw a truck crash outside the school’s perimeter fence, said her lawyer, Don Flanary.

Marin went back inside the school to get her phone and report the crash to 911.

When she came back outside, still on the phone, she saw her co-worker flee and heard people at a funeral home across the street yell, “He’s got a gun!”

Marin saw Ramos jump over a fence. She kicked the rock away, pulled the door shut and ran into the school. She huddled under a counter in a classroom.

She heard gunshots, first outdoors, then inside the school. Her 911 call dropped. She grabbed chairs and boxes to hide behind. Frozen with fear, she tried to be still.

Marin received a text from her daughter asking if she was safe.

“There’s a shooter,” Marin typed back. “He’s shooting. He’s in here.”

Then Ramos approached Room 112.

Camacho and one of her lawyers, Stephanie Sherman, said her son described how Ramos shot his way into the classroom and how police at one point opened the door and retreated after he fired at them. Law enforcement sources disputed the latter part of the boy’s account, saying no officer went into the classroom during the initial response.

The officers “were all in the hallway, and when shots were fired, they all ran back to another hallway or outside,” one source told the Express-News.

Another lawyer for the family, Shawn Brown, said the boy related different details to his grandfather. He told the grandfather that his teacher shielded him with her body as he lay on the floor and that Ramos fired at her, killing her and striking him in the leg.

Brown also said the boy told his grandfather that Ramos, after pacing from one room to the other, asked if anyone needed help — acting in the guise of a police officer.

“When one kid stood up, he shot him with the AK,” Brown said, quoting the grandfather. “That may be the reason he thought an officer had come in.”

Investigators are trying to unravel discrepancies in the accounts provided by the traumatized children. Camacho’s son’s account differs somewhat from what other children have told investigators. The inconsistencies could reflect differing vantage points — whether the children were lying facedown or were facing away from Ramos.

Some saw most of the massacre unfold. As their memories return, the children have revealed progressively more and sometimes contradictory details to investigators and family members.

“The kids’ interviews, they’re bad,” said one law enforcement source, referring to the graphic details. “I can’t even imagine the nightmare … that those kids went through.”

Brown said the differing versions simply reflect trauma.

“It’s because of the shock and because of the stress that they went through,” Brown said. “They’re remembering bits and pieces as they go, and it may not be in sequential order. It was such a traumatic experience that their brains are trying to block it out.”

The official account of what happened inside the school has not been fully disclosed because of a criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers, assisted by the FBI, that is being overseen by Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee…

First on the scene

According to law enforcement sources, Uvalde police and Uvalde CISD officers were among the first to arrive. Because it was school district property, responding officers deferred to Arredondo.

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio, whose district includes Uvalde, said last week that Arredondo was not aware of 911 calls from students inside the classroom, who were begging to be rescued.

Arredondo’s six-officer department does not have its own radio communications system. The 911 calls were routed to the Uvalde Police Department, Gutierrez said. Why Arredondo would not have known about the desperate calls from the students is unclear, given that numerous officers equipped with radios were at the scene.

One source said interviews with officers indicated that Arredondo did not have a police radio with him. Another law enforcement source said security video from the school confirms Arredondo did not have a radio.

“He made some phone calls to Uvalde PD” to get information and may have missed the 911 calls from the students, a source said.

On ExpressNews.com: Uvalde schools police chief didn’t receive 911 calls

Also, the fortified, concrete walls of the school interfered with reception of the radios carried by other officers, law enforcement sources said.

At one point, 19 officers were in a hallway outside the classrooms where Ramos had cornered his terrified victims.

“There’s not as much radio traffic as you would think there would be,” one law enforcement source said. “Those inside may not have heard the kids’ 911 calls.”

Because some officers were off-duty or rushed in, they didn’t have body cameras or did not set them to record, further complicating matters for investigators.

Arredondo appears to have been inside the building with some school police officers and Uvalde police officers. Investigators have collected reports from some first responders indicating that Arredondo tried early on to negotiate with the gunman by cellphone, but Ramos did not answer.

As officers planned strategy in the hallway, Arredondo believed the victims were all dead and Ramos had barricaded himself, investigators said. He held officers back to wait for reinforcements and specialized equipment, and the officers on the scene stood down, according to sources.

DPS Director Steve McCraw has said there was “no excuse” for that decision and that the 19 officers should have stormed in and killed Ramos early on to end the bloodshed and give aid to the wounded.

On ExpressNews.com: As Uvalde students waited for rescue, police assumed there was no reason to rush in

Outside, other officers cordoned off the school and barred agitated parents from going inside.

While the school was under attack, Mireles, one of the fourth-grade teachers who was killed, called her husband, Ruben Ruiz. He is a school district police officer, and he rushed to the scene, Uvalde County Judge Bill Mitchell said. Like the students’ parents, he was prohibited from entering the building.

Mireles and Ruiz talked by phone as the fatally wounded teacher took her last breaths.

“She’s in the classroom and he’s outside. It’s terrifying,” Mitchell told reporters after being briefed by Uvalde County sheriff’s deputies who were at the scene.

Radio traffic shows that officers from several federal law enforcement agencies responded, including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Ultimately, members of a Border Patrol tactical unit shot Ramos, who apparently was locked inside one of the classrooms.

Brown, the lawyer for the family of the 10-year-old boy, said the child described how he and a couple of other students got up when they were rescued.

“He said he saw the other kids on the floor,” Brown said, choking back emotion. “He told the grandfather, ‘I got up. My friends didn’t.’”

‘Really bad’ for police

Why the outer door Ramos used to get into the school didn’t lock when the teacher pulled it shut is unknown. One law enforcement source said officials plan to remove that door and the classroom doors for inspection.

A team from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University went to the school this past week to conduct an assessment of what happened.

The U.S. Justice Department is carrying out a separate review of the police response, at the request of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin Jr.

“The report is not going to be good,” one source said. “This is really bad for law enforcement.”

guillermo.contreras@express-news.net | Twitter: @gmaninfedland

The same organization that produced the Glen Beck video in the previous post also produced videos attacking the Disney Corporation and Pearson for their alleged role in “grooming” children to change their gender identity.

With the recent rash of horrific school shootings, you would think that these zealots could think of better uses for their time and resources.

How about making videos about the need for gun control? Reduced class sizes? Health clinics in school for families?

No, these people are obsessed with sex. That’s all they think about.

The good news is that parents are on to them. They don’t love Pearson, but they love their teachers. They are not fooled by nutty propaganda.

The Destroy Public Education crowd is in league with some seriously whacky people.

The vice principal of an IDEA charter school in San Antonio was arrested for punching a 5-year-old child.

Betsy DeVos, when U.S .Secretary of Education, gave the IDEA chain more than $200 million from the federal Charter Schools Program to expand.

SAN ANTONIO – An area elementary school vice principal is in custody and charged with assault after she “lost control” and attacked a 5-year-old student in her office, according to Sheriff Javier Salazar.

The incident happened April 22 at an IDEA elementary school in the 10100 block of Kriewald Road, but the sheriff’s office wasn’t made aware of the situation until Wednesday, April 27.

According to Salazar, a mother told deputies that her five-year-old son, who attends the school, was assaulted by the school’s vice principal, 53-year-old Tara Coleman Hunter in her office..

The child admitted that he became “unruly” while in Hunter’s office and struck her. However, the situation escalated further when Hunter “lost control” and attacked the child, Salazar said.

“This was handled way inappropriately,” the sheriff said during a news conference Thursday.

Hunter punched the child in the face or head and pushed him into a file cabinet, according to the sheriff. This caused the child to develop a bump on his head and bruising.

The child was out of control, but the adult should know how to deal with an unruly child without resorting to physical assault.

High school students in several districts in Iowa have staged walkouts to protest legislation that affects their education. Students want their teachers to have the freedom to teach, and they want the freedom to learn. Iowa legislators don’t want either.

In light of recent education bills at the Iowa Legislature, whether it’s promoting vouchers for private schools or restricting what teachers are allowed to mention in class, many Iowa students are getting fed up. And they’re standing up.

Friday afternoon in Johnston, a group of close to 100 students walked out of class and stood on school grounds to talk about those bills, explain how they’re impacting Iowa students and teachers, and encourage their peers to register to vote and to elect different legislators.

“I think the biggest thing now is putting people in positions of power that actually will do the work and will care and represent the student voices that are speaking out about this,” said Waverly Zhao, a junior at Johnston High School who helped lead the walkout.

The walkout was organized by students and two student organizations, Johnston Community of Racial Equity (CORE) Club and Iowa WTF.

And Johnston was only one of several with recent walkouts. Thursday, students walked out at Ankeny and other events have been planned for public and private high schools in Ames, West Des Moines, Des Moines, and possibly Waukee. All are organized by student groups, and generally around the same issue of not having their voices heard about their educations. Students have also held walkouts in recent months in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.

Specifically, students are calling out House File 2577, the bill that requires teachers to post every single piece of classroom material online, and Senate File 2369, the bill which allows vouchers for private schools and includes a parents’ bill of rights. Both have only passed in their chambers.

Students are also calling out House File 802, the law that prohibits so-called “divisive concepts” being taught in school, which passed last year…

HF 802 prohibited teachers from teaching “divisive concepts” and targets ideas such as systemic or institutionalized racism and sexism, and how those have shaped the way the country was built and how it functions now. Students say they’ve already seen it cause a chilling effect in their classrooms.

“As a student of color, it’s been hard enough in the district, and with the recent legislation, it’s harder to discuss racism and harder for us to combat that in schools,” said Anita Danakar, a Johnston high schooler.

For example, she said her history teacher made sure to tell students they weren’t trying to make student feel guilty when they talked about redlining in class.

Zhao said in her history and social studies classes teachers are talking less about racism and sexism so they don’t cross any lines. A history lesson she had about the 3/5ths compromise in the Constitution left most of the class confused, Zhao said, because the teacher was never quite able to explain why it existed….

Overall, the students said they want to learn about these topics in school, from a trusted source and in an environment where they can ask questions.

“This entire attitude that [says] these students are not mature enough to learn and have mature conversations in the classroom about race, gender, sexuality, to say we can’t even talk about that in an educational environment is disgusting,” said Nicholas Arick, a 17-year-old student who plans to vote in the next presidential election. “It’s saying these students don’t deserve to learn about these things, and eventually when they get out of high school, they’re be ignorant and they won’t know what they’re voting for.”

On Friday, a large continent of Black students walked out of North Star Academy, a high-scoring no-excuses charter school in Newark, New Jersey. The students were protesting the mistreatment of Black students and teachers.

Chalkbeat reports:

Hundreds of students walked out of a Newark charter school and rallied outside City Hall on Friday to call attention to what students said is the frequent mistreatment of Black students and faculty.

Around 9 a.m., students began streaming out of the Lincoln Park High School campus of North Star Academy, which is New Jersey’s largest charter school operator with more than 6,000 students in Newark and Camden. After marching from the Central Ward campus to nearby City Hall, student organizers and a former teacher gave speeches about a culture of anti-Blackness they said pervades the school, while scores of students cheered and waved signs.

“We’re tired and we’ve been fed up,” 12th grader Kwadjo Otoo called out from the steps of the historic building, adding that some Black teachers and students continue to feel disrespected despite efforts by the charter operator’s leadership to address complaintsabout the schools. “Now they’re trying to pretend like something changed, but we know it’s the same school we’ve been going to forever now.”

Several students said multiple Black teachers over the years have left the school, which the students said is because the teachers felt overworked and undervalued. When well-liked Black teachers depart, their absence can leave students feeling isolated, they said.

“It’s very upsetting for us to build bonds with our teachers, to build relationships and connect,” said L. Drummond, a senior at the Lincoln Park campus, “and then see them chased out by the school.”

The school went into lockdown during the protest, and students who left were not allowed back in after they returned from City Hall. Locked out of school, the students began to disperse around 10:30 a.m.; some said they planned to walk home while others set out for a different North Star campus downtown.

More than 100 students walked out at Huntington High School in Huntington, West Virginia, to protest a religious revival in school.

The students “staged a walkout to protest a school-sanctioned religious revival that some of their teachers required them to attend.”

Earlier this week, teachers told students that during a non-instructive class period called COMPASS, they had to go to an assembly where a Christian prayer revival was set to take place. At the assembly, teens were told to close their eyes, raise their arms in prayer and give their lives to Jesus Christ. They were also told that if they didn’t follow the Bible, they would go to hell after they died.

According to reporting from The Associated Press, one student texted his parent, asking, “Is this legal?”

The tenets of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — and a number of Supreme Court rulings — suggest that it was not. According to the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University, public schools cannot prevent students from expressing or sharing religious beliefs during school hours. However, school officials cannot impose prayer or other religious practices in the building, even if students are not required to take part; to do so constitutes a violation of students’ religious freedom.

Many students at Huntington High School — and their parents — agreed that the revival was not appropriate, and that it violated students’ rights.

“I don’t think any kind of religious official should be hosted in a taxpayer-funded building with the express purpose of trying to convince minors to become baptized after school hours,” said senior Max Nibert, one of the students who led the walkout. “My rights are non-negotiable…”

A spokesperson for Cabell County Schools claimed that the event was optional, and that two teachers made a mistake when they told students they were required to attend.

But once students were at the revival and tried to leave, some were told they couldn’t do so. A Jewish student reported being told they “needed to stay” at the assembly because the classroom where they would otherwise go was locked and unsupervised.

In other words, while the event may have been quietly billed as optional, there were no other options available for students who didn’t want to attend.

How long will it be until the U.S. Supreme Court, with its new-found devotion to unrestricted religious liberty, rules that religious observances in the schools are hunky-dory?

I spent the past two hours listening to the Oakland, California, school board meeting, where the board is going to decide whether to close a large number of public schools.

The first group of speakers who addressed the board on their Zoom was students. Some were as young as first grade; others were in middle school or high school. Every single one of them pleaded with the board not to close their school. They talked about how much they loved their school and their teachers. They talked about how much they are learning. They talked about their friends and their community. They spoke passionately about their devotion to their school.

It would take a heart of stone not to be moved by the student voices. The board gave them an hour to speak, then extended it by another half hour.

Not a single student said “Please close my school.”

Every student, every single one, pleaded with the board to keep their school open.

Will the board listen?

You can watch here:

https://ousd.zoom.us/j/88586792391?fbclid=IwAR1SI96Ita9iLOgBy5COeHeCttyxoAjRwTPyhG20ozvN6jDbOivbNH_1Fec

Veteran teacher Nancy Flanagan was asked by a candidate for advice about education policy. Nancy wrote a list of ten ideas that she thought would be useful guideposts. She now updates her guide for legislators.

She writes (and I summarize):

#1. You don’t know education just because you went to school…

#2. Plan to pay many non-photo op visits to lots of schools…

#3. Take the tests that kids have to take…

#4. Be picky about what you read, listen to, and believe…

#10. Honor our democratic foundations. Public education is the most democratic of our institutions, one of our best ideas as Americans. Public schools may be tattered and behind the technological curve, but systematically destroying the infrastructure of public education is profoundly selfish and immoral. Don’t be that legislator.

This is a thoughtful and thoughtful-provoking post. She updates it.

What would you add to her list?