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Mother: Cyberbullying, fat shaming led up to fight that injured daughter

Twin McDowell, gave WSBTV investigative reporter Mark Winne cellphone video of the student taunting and then hitting her daughter. 

“I was hurt. I allowed myself to allow my daughter to go get an education and to be protected in a school house and she wasn’t protected,” McDowell said.

>> Read more trending stories  

McDowell said her daughter Ashlee Pressley wound up with a black eye after she was attacked last Monday in the Creekside High School cafeteria after refusing repeatedly to be provoked into a fight.

But the mother said Ashlee's feelings, her self-image had already taken a beating in fat-shaming and cyberbullying in social media for several days before that.

“She said that she was humiliated. She was crying. she was upset. She didn’t want to go back to school again,” McDowell said.

Educator fired after Facebook post about Michelle Obama sparks outrage

A Georgia school employee is out of a job because of a controversial Facebook post about first lady Michelle Obama.

The Forsyth County School District confirmed Monday afternoon that it fired paraprofessional Jane Wood Allen, who worked at Chestatee Elementary School in Gainesville.          

"I'm actually appalled," parent Kassie Siver told WSB-TV’s Wendy Corona.

"I think that what she said is out of line," parent Gregory Smith said.

Parents said they were stunned when they learned about the Facebook post on Allen’s personal page that she allegedly posted, saying, "This poor gorilla. How is she going to function in the real world, by not having all of her luxurious vacations paid for anymore?" in reference to the first lady.

>> Read more trending stories

"It's absolutely racist," Siver said. "She's an African-American. You're comparing her to a gorilla. Two and two. There you go."

No one from the Forsyth County School District would talk to WSB-TV on camera, saying it's a personnel matter. But the district did send the following statement:

"Jane Wood Allen has been relieved from duty and is no longer an employee of Forsyth County Schools. Racism and discrimination are not tolerated in our school district. We are committed to ongoing staff training on the acceptance of all individuals."

Parents Corona spoke with say they understand freedom of speech, but say teachers have a higher standard. 

"When it comes to representing a school, Chestatee Elementary, I think you need to really watch it because these kids are our future," Smith told Corona.        

"If she's putting it on social media, she may be putting it in the classroom, and that's not OK with me," Siver said.

Corona stopped by an address listed for Allen and knocked several times to get a comment for this story, but there was no answer.

Student wears baby doll dress with leggings, teacher says it violates dress code

A Florida mom is getting answers as to why her daughter was told she violated her school's dress code policy.

Gabrielle Garcia, 13, was put in in-school suspension for wearing a baby doll dress with leggings because administration said the outfit didn’t quite reach her knees.

Gabrielle’s mom, Misty Garcia, said she dropped off her eighth-grader at Lavilla School of the Arts, and within minutes, she got a phone call from her daughter saying she had been flagged by staff for violating dress code.

>> Read more trending stories 

Garcia told us she pulled her daughter out of school on Thursday for fear of harsher punishment.

“It was a lose-lose situation for us. I just had to go pick her up, and I looked at her outfit and I really didn’t think it was inappropriate,” said Garcia.

Garcia was under the impression that her daughter had two tardies and if she got a third, she’d have a referral. This mom said she didn’t have enough time to bring a new outfit to Gabrielle before the first bell, which would have caused her to serve in-school suspension.

“Honestly, if I would send her to church in something like this, I feel like she can wear it to school,” said Garcia.

Garcia took her concerns to Facebook and posted a message asking parents to weigh in on whether or not her daughter was dressed appropriately. WJAX sent emails and called Duval County Public Schools over this issue. Garcia said the principal called to apologize about the misunderstanding.

Garcia said the principal agreed that the dress should have passed school policy and said the administration will be addressing the teacher who wrote Gabrielle up.  

The school board also sent us a statement that reads, “Duval County Public Schools has evaluated the situation and determined there was miscommunication between the office, parent, and student. School principal and parent have since resolved the misunderstanding.”

Garcia said her daughter is now making up all the work she missed for being absent because of her outfit. The Garcia family reassured Action News Jax that it isn’t easy finding clothes that follow all school guidelines, but they’re diligent when shopping.

“We take our time school shopping and we make sure that everything we buy her is within dress code,” said Garcia. 

Florida students face punishment for wearing KKK costumes

Three Florida students are facing disciplinary action after wearing Ku Klux Klan costumes to school Thursday during a Spirit Week dress up day.

>> Read more trending stories  

Pictures of the Wiregrass Ranch High School students dressed in white sheets with white pointed hoods appeared on social media.

Pasco County School District officials said two of the students are Hispanic and one is Middle Eastern.

Another student wore a Confederate flag as a cape. He was asked to take it off and was not disciplined, officials said.

“Nothing surprises me now,” parent Michael Gadson told WFTS.

“It’s kind of sick,” student Vanessa Dorsey told the station.

Initial reports from Wiregrass Ranch said they were ghost costumes.

 “Usually ghosts don’t have pointed hoods,” Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning told WFTS.

The three students, who were not identified, posted a photo of themselves dressed up in white sheets on social media with the caption, “BRUHHHHHHHHH,” WTVT reported. 

On its Facebook page, the Pasco County School district wrote that it “will not tolerate such offensive harassment!”

“The last thing we need is to have any student regardless of race dressed up in that type of costume,” Browning said.

The district has not said how the three students are being punished, but told WFTS it could include up to a 10-day out of school suspension.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.7";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>Three Wiregrass Ranch High School students wore costumes for spirit week resembling KKK robes. We will not tolerate such offensive harassment!Posted by Pasco County Schools on Thursday, September 29, 2016

Clemson University bans Harambe memes for promoting racism, rape culture

Clemson University is putting the kibosh on all public displays of Harambe, the oft-memed gorilla who was shot and killed in the Cincinnati Zoo in May, claiming that his image promotes racism and rape culture.

>> Read more trending stories

In an email obtained by Campus Reform, Clemson Graduate Community Director Brooks Artis informed resident advisors that "We are no longer allowing any reference to Harambe (or any other spelling) to be displayed on doors, halls, billboards, or windows."

"Harambe should not be displayed in a public place or a place that is viewed by the public," the email said.

>> Related: RAs criticized after sending email telling students not to make Harambe jokes

Artis, who claimed that Harambe memes have been used to "add to rape culture" and can be a "form of racism," said that the announcement was spawned after a Harambe meme was used maliciously toward a student, though he did not get into further detail about that incident.

Artis also threatened that anyone who violated the new rules would "get in some trouble" and may be reported to the Office of Community and Ethical Standards or Title IX for the use of biased language.

>> Related: Cincinnati Zoo deletes Twitter account after being trolled by Harambe memes

"While we are not banning the word, I want to encourage you to think about what you are saying and how someone who may be a different gender, race, culture, or sexuality than you may take the comment," Artis wrote.

The one exception to the Harambe meme display ban, Artis clarified, is in dorm rooms, "where people would have to be invited into the space to see said decoration."

School requires background checks for parents to eat lunch with students

One Alabama school system has a specific requirement for parents wanting to be involved at their school.

WBRC reported that if a student's mom, dad or guardians want to eat lunch with them within the Pelham City School System in Pelham, Alabama, they will need to pass a background check.

>> Read more trending stories

“We have so much parental involvement that the question came up, ‘How do we know everyone in our school is safe to be around our kids?’” Dr. Scott Coefield, the superintendent of Pelham City Schools, told WBRC.

The background checks cost $15.

WBRC reported that some parents expressed concerns about the policy, with one mother saying she wonders how the policy may affect families who are unable to pay for the background check and those who may not be able to complete one because of their immigration status.

Coefield told WBRC there have already been cost cuts made to make the background check more affordable, in addition to a decrease in other fees for parents. But he won't "bend the rules for people who can't get the proper documentation."

The school system, which became independent in 2014, also has a background check policy for parents accompanying students on field trips.

Superintendent says worker who resigned over ‘lunch shaming' never told to take away student's lunch

Canon-McMillan School District Superintendent Michael Daniels spoke with WPXI on Thursday to clear up what he calls misinformation concerning a former cafeteria worker’s decision to resign over the district's new lunch policy.  

The policy, which affects students whose accounts are delinquent, has gained national attention since Stacy Koltiska went public, saying she resigned after having to enforce the new rules, which she considered a “lunch shaming” policy.   

Under the guidelines of the new policy, “After overdrawing the cafeteria account $25, students in grade K-six will be able to charge an alternate lunch, which will consist of a sandwich, a fruit/vegetable serving and milk. Students in grades seven-12 will not be allowed to charge any additional lunches.”

>> Read more trending stories    

Koltiska, who worked in the cafeteria at Wylandville Elementary School, told WPXI on Monday that she was told to take food away from a young boy because his lunch account was overdrawn by more than $25.  

“And he was like, ‘Oh, chicken!’ And his eyes welled up with tears and it was so heartbreaking and I'll never forget it,” she said.   Daniels disputed her claims.  

“It’s my understanding the kid never had tears in his or her eyes, and there was no food thrown away. And ultimately, the child ate a hot meal that day,” the superintendent said. “I would never stand by, knowing that we had humiliated or embarrassed a child. That is not OK, and that did not happen.”

>>Read: School lunch policy prompts resignation of cafeteria worker  

Daniels said the student did have a delinquent account earlier that week, but by lunchtime the day of the alleged incident, the boy’s balance was paid and he ate a hot meal.  

The Canon-McMillan School District is not the first in the area to implement such a policy.

Daniels said since implementing the policy, the district has seen overdrawn lunch balances shrink.  

“As of Aug. 11, we had 302 delinquent accounts that were at the $25 or over mark. As of Sept. 16 – three weeks in – those delinquent accounts went down to 66,” he said.  

Daniels said that no matter how much a student owes, no child will go hungry. He said the district will examine the program in the future.  

“Because of the heightened awareness of our policy, the board will look at whether there are other options to consider,” Daniels said.  

District leaders said applications for free and reduced lunch plans have also increased because of the new rules. They said they’ll look at the lunch policy again in October to see if anything needs to be changed. 

Boy allowed to run for homecoming queen after high school initially denies request

An Orange County, Florida, high school student said he wants to be homecoming queen, but school administrators initially wouldn’t allow it because of his gender.

That changed when WFTV's Mike Manzoni began asking questions about the policy.

The school is now reversing its decision, saying the policy will allow Anthony Martinez to run for homecoming queen and the principal who told the boy he couldn’t run never consulted with the district’s central office.

>> Read more trending stories  

Martinez said he became emotional when he was told he couldn’t run for homecoming queen. His boyfriend, Joncarlo Medina, wants to run for homecoming king.

Martinez was first told by Cypress Creek High School Principal John McHale he couldn’t run for queen because he’s a boy.

“I started crying. Like, it made me really emotional considering how hard I was trying to be queen,” Martinez said.

When Manzoni contacted the school district for answers, a spokesperson said Martinez is eligible to run for the king or queen position.

The spokesperson said McHale, “Did not consult with the central office, but made what he thought was an appropriate decision at the time.”

Orange County Public Schools’ anti-discrimination policy says the district cannot discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Martinez said he’s glad to know he can now run for the position.

“I just feel it’s phenomenal,” said Martinez. “I feel like you guys convinced them”

The principal sent Manzoni an email Tuesday night saying that after further research, he realized any student may run for either homecoming king or queen. 

Mom says son was suspended for turning in knife

A Michigan mother says her son was suspended for turning in a knife.

The mother told local Michigan station WWMT that her 12-year-old son found the pocket knife in his backpack. The bag had been bought at a Goodwill store and never checked.

>> Read more trending stories  

When the seventh grader found the knife, which had been in a leather case at the bottom of the bag, he reportedly brought it to a counselor and was suspended from school. The mother also said the school tried to get her son kicked off the local football team, but the organization refused.

The mother said that, per school rules, the situation meant an automatic one-year suspension, which was later knocked down to 30 days. She told WWMT that she didn't think her son would return to the same school following the suspension.

Click here to read more.

Texas high school spends $60 million on new football stadium, feeds rivalry

Two rival schools in Texas have taken their rivalry to a new level.

Allen High School in Allen, Texas, built a $60 million stadium, complete with a high-definition video screen, a three-tier press box and a capacity of 18,000 seats that nearly matches the Staples Center.

Could a high school football stadium really be any bigger?

Yes. The answer in Texas is always yes. 

>> Read more trending stories  

The Los Angeles Times reported that Allen's neighboring school district in McKinney, Texas, plans to outdo the Eagles' stadium with a nearly $63 million facility -- what could be the nation's most expensive high school stadium. It will be outfitted with a 55-foot-wide, high-definition video screen, an artificial grass field, seating for 12,000 and an adjacent 500-seat event center.

"Oh, it's a rivalry," said Adam Blanchet, a junior at one of the three high schools in the McKinney Independent School District that will use the new stadium. "I have pride knowing my district is going to have the most expensive stadium in the country."

The median household income in McKinney is $83,000. School taxes for property owners amount to $1.63 per $100 of assessed valuation, the Times reported.

To read more on how McKinney is funding the stadium and what students have to say about it, click here.

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