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5-year-old suspended for playing with stick that resembled gun

A mother is angry after her 5-year-old daughter was suspended from school for playing with a stick that was shaped like a gun.

>> Read more trending news 

Caitlin Miller, 5, was suspended from her Hoke County, North Carolina, school for playing one of her favorite games with her two best friends.

“Chloe was the queen, and Jacqueline was the princess. I was the guard,” Caitlin told WTVD.

Caitlin found a stick on the playground that resembled a gun and pretended to shoot an intruder.

Caitlin was suspended for one day after Hoke County Schools said she posed a threat to other students. 

“Hoke County Schools will not tolerate assaults, threats or harassment from any student. Any student engaging in such behavior will be removed from the classroom or school environment for as long as is necessary to provide a safe and orderly environment for learning,” the school system said.

Caitlin’s mother, Brandy Miller, was upset and said it was difficult to explain the reason for the suspension to her daughter.

“We know why it’s bad. We watch the news, but then I have to tell my kid, ‘You’re not allowed to play like that in school because people do bad things to kids your age,’” Miller told WTVD.

Hoke Country Schools stands by its decision.

By Wednesday afternoon, nearly 500 people had voted in a WTVD poll, saying Caitlin’s suspension wasn’t necessary. Five percent of voters said a 5-year-old girl should be suspended for playing with ‘stick gun.’ 

Miller said she wants the school to apologize to her daughter.

See more at WTVD.

Florida high school apologizes for 'good girl' prom dress flyers

School officials have apologized after flyers of prom dress guidelines posted at a Florida high school sparked a social media outcry.

The flyers were put up in the hallways of Stanton College Prep High School in Jacksonville by administrators.

 >> Read more trending stories

Photos of girls wearing dresses considered acceptable were labeled "good girls."

Photos of dresses without backs or with slits read: "Going to Stanton Prom? No, you're not."

The student body responded with #scpgoodgirl and the flyers were taken down, but not before many people took to social media to speak out against them.

The school district said on Twitter Tuesday that the displays were not appropriate.

Professor asks students to write 9/11 essay from terrorists' perspective, sparking outrage

An international studies course assignment at Iowa State University asking students to explore 9/11 and al-Qaida’s understanding of it is eliciting a strong reaction on social media.

Although the assignment says in its description that the exercise is not about “agree[ing] with the terrorists” but about “consider[ing] completely different perspectives,” it is nonetheless being interpreted differently.

For example, Fox News says in the opening of its story: “9/11 was bad. But let’s pretend it wasn’t. That’s the challenge some International Studies students at Iowa State University faced.”

The story was first reported by the College Fix. Here is a transcript of lecturer James Strohman’s assignment for college students:

>> Read more trending news

"Let’s focus on the 911 terrorist attacked and how it might be interpreted differently by different people around the world. For this exercise, you have to 'get out of the box' of our thinking about what happened on 911 and view it from a completely different perspective. While this may seem difficult to do, it is merely an exercise in how different people, cultures, and historical perspectives may actually be.

"Write a paper that gives a historical account of 911 from the perspective of the terrorist network. In other words, how might Al-Qaeda or a non-Western historian describe what happened. Use your imagination and make it as interesting as you like. There is no correct answer here, just your ability to look at what we consider a heinous action from other perspectives. Don’t worry about the fact you don’t agree with the terrorists, the point of the exercise is to consider completely different perspectives."

Iowa State University’s director of communications Rob Schweers responded to the outrage in an email to The College Fix.

“As you can see, the assignment was in no way an attempt to diminish the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Nor was it designed to support the goals of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations,” he said, calling the assignment an exercise in critical thinking. “This is similar to the vital work being performed in our nation’s diplomatic and intelligence operations, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, or the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.”

The story includes the detail that Strohman did not respond for comment.

Class assignment leads 8-year-old to become bestselling author

What started off as a school assignment led one 8-year-old girl to land on Amazon’s Best Seller list.

>> Read more trending news

Nia Mya Reese is a student in Hoover, Alabama. She has an “annoying” little brother who constantly keeps her on her toes.

“He won’t always listen,” Nia told CBS News.

Nia Mya wrote a book about her experiences as a big sister titled, “How to Deal With and Care For Your Annoying Little Brother.” The book has since landed at the top of Amazon’s Best Seller list for parenting under the sibling relationships subsection.

The book began as a first-grade class assignment last year.

“Nia Mya shared that she was a great big sister to an annoying little brother,” teacher Beth Hankins told CBS News.

Nia Mya’s mom, Cherinita, turned the book into a summer assignment, encouraging Nia Mya to work on getting the words and sentences just right.

Now, Nia Mya has a fan base and attends book signing for her book. She said she learned something very valuable from the whole experience.

“I learned to follow my own dreams,” she said. 

Teacher accused of improper relationship smiled because she is innocent, lawyer says

Why did a Texas teacher accused of having an improper relationship with a student smile in her mugshot? Her lawyer has offered an explanation.

According to Dallas-Fort Worth's KXAS, Jason Nassour, attorney for Lockhart High School anatomy teacher Sarah Fowlkes, said she was grinning because she's innocent.

>> On Statesman.com: Lockhart High teacher accused of improper relationship with student

"This isn't a guilty person sitting there like they just got caught," Nassour told KXAS. "When everything's fleshed out, it won't be as it appears."

Lockhart police began investigating the incident March 10 after a school administrator reported that "an educator at the school may be having an inappropriate relationship with a currently enrolled student," according to the arrest affidavit. A 17-year-old student claimed that Fowlkes, 27, touched his genitals and that he "made contact with the defendant's breasts," the affidavit said.

>> See the affidavit here

Fowlkes was arrested on a charge of "improper relationship between educator and student," police said. The school district also suspended Fowlkes, The Austin American-Statesman reported.

"Lockhart parents entrust their children to us every day, and it is something we do not take lightly," Lockhart Superintendent Susan Bohn said in a statement, the American-Statesman reported. "The district does not and will not tolerate any improper communication or contact between a teacher and child."

Bohn also alerted parents about the arrest and suspension in an email, the American-Statesman reported.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Teacher accused of improper relationship with student smiles in mugshot 

Nassour told KXAS that Fowlkes "was arrested on the statement of a 17-year-old kid with no corroborating evidence."

>> Read more trending news

According to the American-Statesman, Fowlkes, who taught anatomy and physiology and environmental systems at Lockhart High, previously taught science and social studies at Plum Creek Elementary School. The Houston Chronicle, citing Fowlkes' social media accounts, reported that she has been married since 2013.

Watch next: Parent upset with kindergarten teacher who used Ouija board in class

Teacher accused of improper relationship with student smiles in mugshot

A 27-year-old science teacher at a Texas high school has been arrested after being accused of having an improper relationship with a student, the Lockhart school district announced Monday.

>> UPDATE: Teacher accused of improper relationship smiled because she is innocent, lawyer says

Lockhart High School teacher Sarah Fowlkes, a school district employee since October 2014, also was suspended from her job. The district said it was alerting the State Board for Educator Certification about the case.

The district said it first received a report about the relationship on March 10, before the start of spring break, and alerted Lockhart police and Child Protective Services. Police said the student was 17 years old.

>> Read more trending news

“Lockhart parents entrust their children to us every day, and it is something we do not take lightly,” Superintendent Susan Bohn said in a statement. “The district does not and will not tolerate any improper communication or contact between a teacher and child.”

Bohn emailed Lockhart High parents on Monday to notify them of the arrest and Fowlkes’ suspension. The superintendent also asked parents to speak with their children about what happened.

“If any student or parent has information about this situation, please contact the Lockhart Police Department at 512-398-4401,” Bohn wrote. Counselors also would be available at the high school for support, she said.

Fowlkes, who grew up in Dripping Springs, taught anatomy and physiology and environmental systems, according to a cached webpage that has since been deleted from the district’s website. According to the webpage, Fowlkes earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from St. Edwards University and went through the UTeach program at the University of Texas before earning an alternative teaching certification. She previously was a third- and fifth-grade science and social studies teacher at Plum Creek Elementary in the district.

University bumps up graduation date for student with dying father

Ken Brown’s dying wish was to see his son, Collin, graduate from the University of Minnesota.

When university officials learned that the Champlin man, who is dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), was not likely to survive until his son’s May graduation date, they decided to do something special for him, according to KARE-TV in Minneapolis. They brought the graduation to him, two months early. 

Brown is in the late stages of ALS, with which he was diagnosed four years ago, during Collin Brown’s freshman year. 

“It’s been a big formative part of all of my college years,” Collin Brown said. “So I think it’s a good kind of end and conclusion to all of that.”

University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler hosted the makeshift ceremony, attended by a few dozen people, on Monday at the Browns’ home. KARE-TV, which was there for the occasion, reported that Kaler’s voice cracked as he welcomed Ken Brown and the other guests to the ceremony.

“I’m really glad we were able to do it for the family,” Kaler told the news station. “I know it means a lot to them.”

Ken Brown saw his daughter, Keegan, graduate from the university two years ago. He wanted to live long enough to watch Collin walk across the stage, as well. 

Doctors don’t believe that he will live until May, his wife, Patti Brown, said.

“The hospice doctor thought that it would be about Easter, and May would be a stretch,” Patti Brown said

Ken Brown said he would be at the May commencement ceremony, in which Collin still plans to participate, if he lives that long.

>> Read more trending stories

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive degeneration of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As the motor neurons that control muscle movement throughout the body die, the patient loses the ability to move, speak, eat and breathe.  

According to the ALS Association, the average life expectancy after diagnosis is three years. About 20 percent of patients live five years, 10 percent live 10 years and 5 percent live 20 years or more. 

An example of someone in that 5 percent is famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who was diagnosed with the disease in 1963. 

Teacher raps 'Bad and Boujee' to teach the Civil War

A teacher at Edwards Middle School in Conyers took an Atlanta rap group’s hit single “Bad and Boujee” and fashioned it for a Civil War lesson for his students. 

David Yancey has picked out artists like Atlanta's own Migos, Chance the Rapper and Adele to help his students learn. 

"I'm trying to get kids to want this,” Yancey said.

>> Read more trending news  

"They're really catchy,” student Allison Adcock said. “So, you remember them, like during tests when you need them."

Mixing a hit with history has paid off in the classroom.

"Because now they're really willing to hear the material to understand it and they're always looking forward to the next song,” Principal Fred Middleton said.

And now subjects like the Civil War and Cherokee Indians bring them to their feet.

"I’m not Migos," Yancey said. "I'm not Adele. I'm an eighth-grade social studies teacher who is trying to reach them."

Besides being an aspiring singer, Yancey also happens to be the school's reigning Teacher of the Year.

OMG my HS friend teaches middle school in atl now and rapped about civil war over migos beat. bad and bougee = mad and losing.pic.twitter.com/XhNqKS16Fc— josie duffy rice (@jduffyrice) March 13, 2017

Elementary school apologizes after students asked to make slave auction posters

Officials at a New Jersey school district have apologized for a fifth-grade history assignment that had students making slave auction posters that were then hung up around their school.

The superintendent of the South Orange-Maplewood School District issued an apology following a backlash from parents, according to WABC-TV in New York. Students at South Mountain Elementary School were studying colonial America when they were asked to draw examples of events that would have occurred during their assigned colonial time period.

The assignment included “a poster for a lecture, speech, protest or slave auction,” the news station reported.

One student who drew a poster for a slave auction included, for sale, “Anne, aged 12 years, a fine house girl,” “Edwin, aged 24 years, a great hunter” and “Sam, aged 18 years, a field (sic) hand.”

Another student drew a “Wanted” poster for a slave accused of stealing food and money. It listed a reward for the female slave’s capture.

The students who drew “Wanted” posters included images of people with brown skin.

MAPSO Community-Have some disheartening news.  While we pride ourselves on our towns culture of progression and...Posted by Jamil Karriem on Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Some parents and community members took offense to the lesson. Jamil Karriem, who posted photos of the posters to his Facebook page, wrote that it was “completely lost on (him)” how the project was effective at teaching students American history.

“These images were on display for all students (ages ranging from 4-10) to see, including those that would lack any context of the underlying 'lesson' or 'purpose,'” Karriem wrote. “Educating young students on the harsh realities of slavery is, of course not the issue here, but the medium for said education is grossly insensitive and negligent.”

He urged parents to contact school and district officials and included the email addresses of the superintendent, the board member representing the school and the school principal.

>> Read more trending stories

Parent Glenn Conover told WABC-TV that he thought the posters were disrespectful to the black students in the school. Caregiver Andrea Espinoza disagreed.

“It’s part of history, of course,” Espinoza told the news station. “It happened. I think it’s good that they know.”

Dr. John Ramos Sr., superintendent of the school district, told WABC-TV that the assignment was part of a colonial America lesson unit that’s been in place for a decade. He said, however, that the district recognizes that the slave auction posters, while historically relevant, were “culturally insensitive.”

“We certainly understand and respect the strong reaction which some parents had to seeing slave auction posters included with other artwork from the assignment," Ramos said in a statement to CNN. "We are rethinking the Colonial America Project for next year, and will eliminate the example of a slave auction poster.”

The posters have been removed from the hallways of the school.

'Hallelujah': School gets musical with snow day announcement

It's a snow day for much of Massachusetts, but one school in particular received the news in a special song from the superintendent.

>> CLICK HERE for the latest weather forecast

>> 5 hacks to keep your smartphone charged during a power outage

>> 7 tips to keep your pets safe during winter weather

Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School Superintendent Aaron Polansky rewrote the words to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" to let students know that they could sleep in on Tuesday morning. 

>> Watch the video here

>> Read more trending news

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