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ACLU, RI Legal Services file federal complaint against PPSD. Here’s what it says.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Legal Services announced on Wednesday they filed a federal complaint against the Providence Public School District for allegedly failing to give parents of special education students important documents on services they may receive.

According to a news release, the complaint, filed with the US Department of Education, states that the documents “contain student test protocols, which include notes and observations of evaluators that form the basis of reports on the services that must be provided to address the child’s special educational needs.”

“The complaint, on behalf of a Providence parent and her child, was filed as a class administrative complaint on behalf of all children with disabilities or suspected disabilities in the school district,” the release said. “The school district has admitted that it has failed to maintain and/or cannot locate evaluation and test protocols for the child and, presumably, other students.”

More on PPSD:What’s happening with Providence school closings? Everything you need to know

The RIACLU and RI Legal Services said they’re seeking “a variety of forms of relief,” including trainings for school staff on protocols and an order barring the district from “using evaluations where protocols have been mislaid, lost, or destroyed illegally if a parent or guardian objects to their use.”

Reaching for comment, Rhode Island Department of Education spokesman Victor Morente said the school district “was recently made aware of the complaint.”

“It is under review by PPSD’s legal counsel, and they will respond accordingly,” he added.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: ACLU, RI Legal Services file complaint against PPSD on special education records

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Virginia boy who shot teacher allegedly tried to choke another, lawyer claims

A 6-year-old Virginia boy who shot and wounded his first-grade teacher constantly cursed at staff and teachers, chased students around and tried to whip them with his belt and once choked another teacher “until she couldn’t breathe,” according to a legal notice filed by an attorney for the wounded teacher .

The incidents were described in a notice sent to the Newport News school district by Diane Toscano, an attorney for teacher Abby Zwerner, informing the district that Zwerner intends to sue. The notice of claim, which was obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request, outlines prior behavioral issues the boy had at Richneck Elementary School and the troubling interactions he had with teachers and students.

Two days before the shooting, the boy allegedly “slammed” Zwerner’s cellphone and broke it, according to the claim notice. He was given a one-day suspension, but when he returned to Zwerner’s class the following day, he pulled a 9mm handgun out of his pocket and shot him while he sat at a reading table, the notice says.

The notice elaborates on allegations of Toscano outlined last month during a news conference.

The document says that several hours before the shooting, at least three teachers and staff members warned school administrators that they believed the boy had brought a gun to school. The boy’s backpack was searched, but no gun was found, and administrators did not remove the boy from class, lock down the school or call the police.

Virginia Shooting
A teacher was injured in a shooting Jan. 6, 2023, at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia.

Virginian Pilot / Contributor / Getty Imahes


The claim notice says that Zwerner went to former Assistant Principal Ebony Parker’s office at about 11:15 am that day “to advise her that the shooter seemed

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6-year-old Virginia student who shot his teacher tried choking another

RICHMOND, Va. — A 6-year-old Virginia boy who shot and wounded his first-grade teacher constantly cursed at staff and teachers, chased students around and tried to whip them with his belt and once choked another teacher “until she couldn’t breathe,” according to a legal notice filed by an attorney for the wounded teacher.

The incidents were described in a notice sent to the Newport News school district by Diane Toscano, an attorney for teacher Abby Zwerner, informing the district that Zwerner intends to sue. The notice of claim, which was obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request, outlines prior behavioral issues the boy had at Richneck Elementary School and the troubling interactions he had with teachers and students.

Two days before the shooting, the boy allegedly “slammed” Zwerner’s cellphone and broke it, according to the claim notice. He was given a one-day suspension, but when he returned to Zwerner’s class the following day, he pulled a 9mm handgun out of his pocket and shot him while he sat at a reading table, the notice says.

The notice elaborates on allegations of Toscano outlined last month during a news conference.

The document says that several hours before the shooting, at least three teachers and staff members warned school administrators that they believed the boy had brought a gun to school. The boy’s backpack was searched, but no gun was found, and administrators did not remove the boy from class, lock down the school or call the police.

A CHILD SHOT HIS TEACHER. A 72-YEAR-OLD MAN OPENED FIRE IN PUBLIC:Here’s what that tells us about guns in America.

6-YEAR-OLD SHOOTS, WOUNDS VIRGINIA TEACHER:School administrators ‘could not be bothered’ to heed warnings that day, the lawyer said.

Students return to Richneck Elementary in Newport News, Virginia.  The elementary school where a 6-year-old boy shot his teacher reopened with stepped-up security and a new administrator, as nervous parents and students expressed optimism about a return to the classroom.

The claim notice says that Zwerner went to former Assistant Principal

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Former principal at Virginia school where boy shot his first-grade teacher was not told the child had a gun, her attorney says

The former principal at the Virginia elementary school where a 6-year-old student shot his first-grade teacher last month was not warned that the child may have had a gun on campus that day, his lawyer said Thursday.

No other administrators told Briana Foster Newton, the former principal at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, about warnings the child may have taken a gun on campus, Pamela J. Branch, her attorney, said at a brief news conference Thursday.

“It continues to be reported that unidentified school administrators were aware that the 6-year-old student had a gun at school on Jan. 6 and simply failed to act. Mrs. Newton has been assumed to be one of those administrators. However, that is far from the truth,” Branch said. “The fact of the matter is that those who were aware that the student may have had a gun on the premises that day did not report this to Mrs. Newton at all.”

Branch continued, “I repeat: Mrs. Newton was unfortunately not one of the administrators who was informed by those in the school that day who had this critical information.”

The branch took only a few questions from reporters Thursday citing an investigation and the possibility of future litigation. She added the students had only recently returned to the school and are trying to regain normalcy.

‘They failed to act, and Abby was shot’

The teacher, Abigail Zwerner, 25, was wounded in a hand and her chest after the student shot her in front of a classroom of about 20 students, officials have said.

Zwerner survived and is recovering.

On Jan. 25, Zwerner’s attorney, Diane Toscano, made a series of allegations that the administration at Richneck ignored multiple warnings that could have prevented the shooting.

Three teachers went to the school administration on the

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Hazing allegation to be questioned

Northwestern has hired an outside attorney to investigate alleged hazing within its football program.

The school said in a statement Wednesday it “immediately” hired attorney Maggie Hickey of law firm ArentFox Schiff to lead the investigation after it was made aware of the alleged hazing following this past season. The school said Hickey likely will interview players, coaches and staff members. ESPN first reported the investigation.

“While we do not yet know whether the allegations are true, hazing is prohibited by University policy, and we take these claims seriously,” Northwestern said in the statement. “The health, safety and well-being of our students is the first priority.”

Northwestern would not say if a player made the allegation or if players, coaches or staff members were involved.

“The purpose of Ms. Hickey’s investigation is to find the underlying truth of the allegations — including the scope of any potential hazing activity or harmful culture,” Northwestern said.

The Wildcats finished 1-11 for their worst record since the 1989 team went 0-11. They’ve lost 17 of their last 18 games.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald is 110-101 in 17 seasons leading his alma mater and is by far the school’s winningest coach. He led the Wildcats to Big Ten West championships in 2018 and 2020 plus five bowl victories. But they are 4-20 over the last two seasons.

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Demand for behavioral, legal services surge as CT children return to school

Demand for legal services from Connecticut families in selected cities rose 74% after children returned to in-person school, according to a report.

The report, based on families in Hartford, Waterbury, Bridgeport and New Haven, was produced by the Center for Children’s Advocacy (CCA)which aims to protect the legal rights of low-income children, while providing them with behavioral and other services that they need to thrive.

Chronic absenteeism persisted in urban schools prior to COVID-19, and it hasn’t gotten much better, said Martha Stone, an attorney and executive director at the Hartford-based CCA, a nonprofit.

Those back in school from remote learning are struggling with discipline issues, Stone said.

“We are representing kids on suspensions and expulsions, which really doesn’t help them because they’re out of school for 180 days sometimes.” she said. “We are representing children who have special needs.”

For example, CCA points to a 6-year-old who had been placed in a regular kindergarten classroom, despite having a significant behavioral health condition.

The report stated that the child frequently had disruptive behaviors in the classroom and his teacher, who was not trained in special education, resorted to making frequent calls to his parents to pick him up and remove him from school for the rest of the day. As a result, the student was missing school, and his parents were at risk of losing their jobs because the teacher was frequently calling them to the school.

CCA represented the child and officials said they got him transferred to a school that specializes in educating students with his behavioral health condition. The 6-year-old is able to stay in school for a full day, and his behavior and academic achievement have improved, officials say.

Stone said CCA’s legal teams are also working on alternatives to child arrests

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Little Rock lawyer, traveler, mentor dies at 75

A Little Rock attorney who mentored prisoners, counseled highly placed people and could dance like James Brown died Friday.

Lawson Turner, 75, walked to a different drumbeat, said his longtime friend Haskell Dickinson of Little Rock.

“He was an extremely handsome fellow with a charismatic smile,” Dickinson said. “He was an outstanding athlete and a good student and the best dancer anybody saw.”

Lawson Withers Turner III was born in Lynchburg, Va., grew up in Lonoke and moved to Little Rock around the age of 12. He went to high school at Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, where he set records running the high hurdles.

“He and I were the only two students from Arkansas at the boarding school,” said Bobby Tucker of Little Rock. “We both ran track. He was a lot better than I was. We both ran high hurdles. He always beat me. He was so fast.”

Turner graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, then from law school at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.

“He was an attorney by education and an entrepreneur — businessman — by trade,” said his daughter, Mary Frances Isakov of Severna Park, Md. “He was incredibly smart, very talented and creative. He loved life so he took full advantage. He probably fit 100 years of living in 75 years of life.”

After college, Turner worked as a lawyer in Lynchburg and Washington, DC

After a few years, Turner moved back to Little Rock, where his family had deep roots.

His maternal grandfather, Hamilton Moses, was president of Arkansas Power and Light. Lake Hamilton is named for him.

His paternal grandmother was Chile Turner of Virginia, a singer whose career spanned from the 1920s to the 1970s. She recorded a song in 1959 called “Crap Shootin’ Sinner.”

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Bremerton schools on hook for Kennedy’s attorney fees

Joe Kennedy, obscured at center in blue, is surrounded by Centralia High School football players as they kneel and pray with him on the field after their game against Bremerton on Oct.  16, 2015.

It’s all over now except for the shouting about who is going to pay Joe Kennedy’s lawyer bills.

That would be the Bremerton School District, according to Kennedy’s lawyers who at the US Supreme Court scored a nationwide victory Monday in a local controversy over the assistant varsity football coach’s right to pray on the field after games.

The district is not on the hook for damages, as Kennedy asked only to be reinstated as a Bremerton High School coach and to be allowed to hold a private prayer on the field after games.

However, the case racked up a huge tab as it bounced back and forth between the trial court, an appellate court and the US Supreme Court.

Hiram Sasser, executive general counsel for First Liberty, said Wednesday afternoon that the organization has not made a final tally, but he estimated the bill would run into the millions of dollars.

“I sure hope it’s not eight figures,” Sasser said Wednesday in a phone interview with the Kitsap Sun, meaning $10 million or more. “Any government entity, when they are defending themselves in a constitutional law case, they really have to make sure they are right.”

For its part, the district took issue with the decision’s focus on the three prayers Kennedy performed in October 2015, not the public prayers leading up to that, some of which others included and spanned seven years. Further, the district understands the ruling as affirming that officials can set “guidelines” for how Kennedy will pray.

“It described his prayers as quiet and personal and spokesperson that Mr. Kennedy sought only to pray alone,” district Karen Bevers wrote Friday in an email to the Kitsap Sun. “That wrongly describes what actually happened here: The school district had to respond to Mr. Kennedy’s whole course

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