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Grandmother, granddaughter graduate together from college

For the first time in its 150-year history, Chicago State University awarded diplomas to a grandmother and granddaughter during the same ceremony, WLS reported.

>> Read more trending news

Belinda Berry, 62, and Karea Berry, 25, both walked across the stage at the Jones Convocation Center on Thursday to accept their diplomas. 

Grandma graduated at the top of her class with a 3.8 grade-point average in business. Her granddaughter Karea Berry earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, WLS reported. 

Both plan to pursue their master’s degrees.

"It was never planned, we both enrolled in school and we didn't know we were going to finish together because I was full-time and she was part-time, and it just worked out that way," Karea Berry said.

Belinda Berry walked first, followed by Karea Berry.

"I have always stressed that education is power,” said Belinda Berry, who went back to school part-time to improve her employment prospects. “I am very honored to be a role model and I hope that I am an inspiration to the young as well as the old, because it is never too late to pursue an education.”

Watch: He’s going to Harvard, and Louisiana student’s reaction is priceless

It has been quite a week for two Louisiana brothers. Both were accepted into big-name colleges, and separate videos of their reactions have gone viral.

>> Read more trending news

On Tuesday, 16-year-old Ayrton Little and his classmates at T.M. Landry College Preparatory waited as he opened his email to see if he had been accepted into Harvard University’s 2019-2020 class, WAFB reported. The junior’s reaction is priceless when he gets the good news.

His classmates shout “three-peat,” as it is the third consecutive year that a T.M. Landry student has been accepted to Harvard, WAFB reported. 

Ayrton said he plans to major in applied math and computer science.

His celebration came on the heels of a joyous day for his older brother, Alexander Little. On Friday, Alexander got the news that he had been accepted into Stanford University.

Alexander said he plans to major in physics with a minor in computer science.

Hitler-themed homework assigned to middle-schoolers angers parents

Parents in a Chicago suburb are furious after their kids brought home a homework assignment called “If You Give Hitler a Country.” The assignment reportedly told the students to “create a comic strip for little kids that exemplifies Europe’s appeasement towards Hitler.”

>> Watch the news report here

At Woodland Middle School in Gurnee, Illinois, eighth-grader Michael Masterton told WGN that “everyone in the class was given the paper and it tells you all the requirements.” His mother, Kelly, was a bit more taken aback by the homework, telling the Chicago station, “I asked him, ‘Did you ask the teacher if you could use these images?’ and he said yes. … I’m not sure what the appropriate manner is to use a swastika.” The concerned mother posted the image to her Facebook page and said, “[I] don’t think [the teacher] did it to be anti-Semitic. I think she was trying to teach that there was propaganda. ... It did not come through that way.”

>> Read more trending news

On the handout, a cartoon character is shown wearing a Nazi uniform and sporting an Adolf Hitler mustache while giving a Nazi salute. Michael told NBC Chicago that he asked for an alternative assignment, saying, "Some kids were being a bit immature and trying to make this assignment a little bit funny, and it’s disgusting.”

School board president Carla Little apologized in a statement and said the assignment was aimed at teaching students about the appeasement negotiations between the Nazis and opposing countries and the events leading up to World War II. Kelly said she’s not satisfied with the school's explanation and wants to know “that they’re not going to go ahead and give more assignments and make light of it.”

Read more here.

Middle school teacher charged with sex crimes involving students

A grand jury indicted a middle school teacher in Caldwell County, North Carolina, on five felony counts of taking indecent liberties with a child.

>> Watch the news report here

WSOC-TV reporter Dave Faherty was there as authorities brought in 29-year-old Justin Biggs. 

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Police said Biggs has resigned from his teaching position at William Lenoir Middle School.

Lenoir police said they began their investigation in November after a female middle school student reported being assaulted on school grounds. The investigation led to more students coming forward, totaling five, according to police.

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

The indictments said Biggs, who was a math teacher and softball coach at the middle school, committed a lewd act on a child

Police said all of the incidents happened on school grounds.

"It's hard on the school and the children there,” Lenoir police Capt. Brent Phelps said. “These are tough cases."

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. 

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