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Florida school offering bulletproof armor for students' backpacks

A private school in South Florida is offering bulletproof armor that students can use to protect themselves from gunfire.

>> Read more trending news

Florida Christian School in Miami-Dade County, which has students ranging from preschool to high school, is offering parents the ability to buy a piece of ballistic armor that can be placed in their child’s backpack, according to the Miami Herald.

“It’s just a tool,” George Gulla, the school’s head of security, told the Miami Herald. “I’d rather be prepared for the worst than be stuck after saying ‘Wow, I wish we would’ve done that.’”

Gulla, who has 27 years of law enforcement experience, was running through safety drills with parents at the school when Alex Cejas, founder of the body armor company Applied Fiber Concepts, suggested the idea.

Cejas created binder-sized armor that can protect students from some bullets, but not bullets from a rifle.

The pieces of armor can be bought by parents at the school for $120.

WATCH: Florida high school principal wows students with dance moves at pep rally

A Florida high school principal's dance moves are getting a lot of attention.

>> Click here to watch

Dr. Mickey Reynolds, who started working as a principal at Lake Mary High School in June, got the chance to dance in front of her students at a pep rally.

“Frankly, I thought they would just die laughing,” she said. “I was not expecting the overwhelming applause. I couldn’t believe it.”

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

Reynolds said she approached Kelly Lupis, the school’s Unity Revolution STEP team coach, with the idea of joining the team for Friday’s pep rally.

Reynolds coached a STEP team before and said dancing holds a special place in her heart.

She said she had no idea she would end up becoming part of the whole routine.

“They taught me the moves and I videotaped them. I practiced a little at home, and then a second practice and third to run through it really quick,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds’ moves were well-received; the crowd went wild over how well she did, and video of the performance quickly went viral.

>> Read more trending news 

A parent posted video of the dance on Facebook, where it’s been shared by more than 30,000 people and viewed more than 2.9 million times. 

“I was very surprised, and then this weekend it kept ticking up in terms of views,” Reynolds said. “The kids have been great. They’ve been very excited. They were part of the whole viral thing too.”

Reynolds graduated from Lake Mary High School in 1986, and her father was the first principal at the school.

“I made it full-circle. I feel like I’ve come home,” she said.

Former 'principal of the year' accused of sex with students

The 2015 Ohio “principal of the year” has been indicted on sex charges stemming from alleged relationships with students.

On Friday, a grand jury issued a summons to Chillicothe High School Principal Jeffrey Fisher, charging him with seven counts of sexual battery. The charges relate to two students — then 16 and 17 — who say the teacher had inappropriate contact with them. County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt told the Chillicothe Gazette that he didn’t want to get into the specifics of the charges, but the paper noted that sexual battery charges “include allegations of sexual intercourse.”

The investigation into Fisher began after an Aug. 16 meeting where school officials were informed of the allegations by the local department of family services.

>> Teacher accused of sex with students in cemetery sentenced

In a statement to the Gazette, Fisher’s attorney wrote, “We’ve been aware of these accusations for years, and we’ll be entering a not guilty plea.” He also asked for information from the public that might help exonerate the 35-year-old principal.

Schmidt says the relationships occurred during the 2009-10 and 2011-12 school years and that “certainly with at least one victim, phone records will show substantial telephone and text contact.”

On Friday, Superintendent Jon Saxton sent a letter to parents explaining the situation and saying that as soon as the allegations arose, Fisher was “reassigned” to work from home. He closed by saying it would be inappropriate to discuss the matter further, citing the ongoing case.

>> Teacher sentenced for sex with student claims victim lured her like 'used car salesman'

Fisher has reportedly been on Saxton’s radar for quite some time, and the superintendent has had multiple conversations with the principal about his behavior. In September 2015, the Chillicothe Gazette found that Saxton laid out a list of complaints, saying Fisher’s social media behavior may be crossing the line. In one letter, the superintendent wrote, “In our conversation, you did not seem to understand the importance of separating yourself from relationships with students via messaging and texts.”

A student allegedly told a member of the staff this year about the allegations, and the district released a screenshot of a text conversation in which one possible victim said she retained a lawyer to speak for her. It’s unclear who the parties in the message were, but one wrote, “She could hardly talk to me from crying and saying it’s been seven years trying to get over this.”

>> Read more trending news 

Although Fisher has taken down all his social media profiles, he previously had some eyebrow-raising interactions, the Gazette reported. On Twitter, he reportedly liked a former student’s post about turning 21 and being “sloshed.” On another occasion, he told a student that she was a “10/10," according to the Gazette.

He is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 21. His attorney says he will plead not guilty.

Bathroom cameras at Colorado high school draw criticism

The decision by a Colorado high school to install cameras in its bathroom is being criticized by parents who say that the move violates students’ privacy rights, KDVR reported.

>> Read more trending news

Windsor Charter Academy executive director Rebecca Teeples said the installation of cameras improves safety for students while helping keep the school building secure, KDVR reported.

"We had surveillance cameras in our plans from the very start. It was part of the design of the new wing," Teeples said. "We want to make sure our students are safe and secure."

Trevor Garrett, a parent of three students at Windsor Charter Academy, said the decision violates students' right to privacy.

“The first word that comes to mind is disgusting,” Garrett told KDVR. “I never thought it would be on anyone’s mind to put cameras in bathrooms anywhere.”

Garrett said he also worries about students who might change in the restrooms for after-school activities or other circumstances where students might be exposed outside of the stalls.

“My gut reaction is, I’m a father, I want to protect my children and I’m going to protect any kids in here,” Garrett told KDVR. “I think when we sacrifice privacy for the sake of safety, it’s a very slippery slope.

“At what point does it cross that threshold and violate rights? I think [in this situation] this violates rights.”

Teeples said the cameras will be confined to the school's high school bathrooms because the stalls go from the floor to the ceiling, KDVR reported.

Lawsuit: Teacher taped shut special needs student’s mouth

A teacher taped shut the mouth of a 26-year-old disabled student who wouldn’t be quiet, part of a series of abuses against the woman, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the woman’s parents.

>> Read more trending news

The student’s attorney, Jonathan Marko, told reporters Thursday that over the 10 years she attended classes in the Washtenaw Intermediate School District in Michigan, she suffered “medieval-type torture,” the Detroit Free Press reported.

“She had scalding hot coffee spilled on her, leaving permanent scarring. She was locked into a bathroom by herself,” Marko said. “She was slapped in the face so loud in the school yard that the bus driver across the school yard heard it and reported it to her parents. She was bound and gagged, and she had tape put over her mouth.”

The student has cerebral palsy and cognitive disorders, according to the Free Press. She uses a wheelchair and cannot speak.

According to, the student attended High Point School. The school is operated by WISD and serves students with disabilities. Named in the suit were a special education teacher, the school’s principal and WISD, reported.

Among the abuses the student suffered, the lawsuit claimed that her teacher, Nesa Johnson, covered her mouth in tape, photographed her and sent a text message of the image to the student’s mother.

“Help. She won’t be quiet!!!!” Johnson wrote in the text message, according to the lawsuit.

Filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, the lawsuit claimed that the student was “physically unable to remove the tape, has trouble breathing and clearing her throat, and breathes out of her mouth,” reported.

"To think this is going on in today’s day and age, at an educational institution ... is abhorrent," Marko said, according to the Free Press.

He said the parents brought concerns about possible abuse to the school multiple times over the years, but each time, “The school assured them that they were taking care of it, that (the parents) were overreacting, that whatever was happening, whatever they saw or that was going on, that it was” the student’s fault, the Free Press reported. Her parents kept her at the school because they didn’t realize the extent of the abuse, according to the newspaper.

WISD spokeswoman Emma Jackson told that Johnson no longer works for the school district, but she declined to discuss the specifics of the case.

"The Washtenaw ISD wants to assure the parents of our district that we take the health, safety, and education of all of our students very seriously," Jackson told in a statement. "As to the subject of this lawsuit, the family did not report this, or any other complaint to the district until nearly a year after it occurred. During that subsequent year, the student continued attending school, in the same classroom, with the same teacher. When we were first informed of the family's concern, we immediately conducted a complete investigation and took appropriate remedial action."

Jackson told the Free Press that Johnson’s supervisor, Anne Nakon, is no longer employed by WISD either. It was not immediately clear if their departures were related to the allegations set forth in the lawsuit.

Nakon had previously told the Free Press that she was told about the allegations several months ago and that she “shared that I was unaware of any misconduct toward this student or any student.

“I would never condone such a behavior and, had I been made aware of or suspected any mistreatment of a student, would have immediately investigated the situation to protect the student," she said.

Coach resigns over inappropriate message accidentally sent to student

A popular high school baseball and football coach said he was forced to resign after admitting he accidentally sent an inappropriate text to a student.

WSBTV’s Mike Petchenik obtained documents from Fulton County Schools that show Cambridge High School’s Miles Martin admitted to sending the text to a student, but that he meant to send it to a friend with the same first name.

WSBTV did not reprint the contents of the text because they are not appropriate for audiences.

>> Read more trending news

Fulton County School spokeswoman, Donna Lowry, said Martin resigned, but that the district would have no comment on the personnel issue.

A fellow teacher reported hearing about the content of the text and a human resources investigation was initiated for allegations of unprofessional conduct.“Fulton County expects professional behavior from their employees at all times,” an investigator wrote in the document Petchenik obtained. “Mr. Martin displayed poor judgment in sending the text message.”

The investigator upheld the allegations against Martin claiming “he failed to report the incident to school administration and follow the FCS Employee Handbook on private social media. Mr. Martin exhibited unprofessional behavior."

Martin sent Petchenik an e-mailed statement about what happened:

I made an error when sending a personal and private message to a trusted friend; to be clear it was an error and not an error in judgment that resulted in the message being delivered to a student. I immediately communicated my error to individual and he acknowledged that the message wasn’t meant for him. I absolutely regret my error, have accepted responsibly for it and apologized to the family involved and thank them for acceptance and understanding. While fully cooperating with FCS during the inquiry, the Chief Talent Officer made clear I could speak to no one else and that he would make my path to a fair hearing of the facts take months if not longer. I made an error, I did nothing wrong, yet I saw no path to a fair decision without it taking months and costing thousands of dollars so I made the personal decision to resign my position, a position I dearly love. To the Bear Family stay with it “All In All The Time”, I miss you every day, once a Bear always a Bear!

A long-time friend and booster of the Cambridge program told Petchenik he believes Martin got a raw deal.

“Coach Martin is a good role model. He’s a young guy,” said John Schafer. “The kids relate to him.”

While Schafer said he doesn’t condone the content of what Martin wrote in the text, he said Martin shouldn’t be punished for it.

“It was certainly not designed nor intended to reach a student,” he said. “He is moving on. He’s being as strong as he possibly can. He’s devastated.”

Petchenik obtained a letter from the family of the teen who received the text. They sent the letter to Fulton County Superintendent Jeff Rose.

"We can all agree that Coach Martin never intended to send this to our son,” the letter reads. "My wife and I do not feel this text shows the type of person Coach Martin is and that his mistake should not affect his ability to coach and teach our boys.”

Alabama student dies weeks after being hit in head with soccer ball

A University of Alabama freshman died Saturday, three weeks after she was hit in the head with a ball while playing soccer with friends.

Allie Brodie, 18, of Danville, California, succumbed to complications of pneumonia, according to the Tuscaloosa News. She was in a medically-induced coma at the time of her death.

“Heaven has gained a beautiful guardian angel, and we continue to seek peace in God’s plan for our sweet girl,” her mother, Cindy Brodie, wrote in announcing her death, according to a GoFundMe page in her name

The fundraising page, established to help with her medical costs, stated that Brodie was struck in the head with a soccer ball as she played Oct. 7 with new friends she had made on campus. Over the next few days, she suffered worsening symptoms that led her to the emergency room.

Surgery soon followed, after doctors discovered bleeding in Brodie’s brain.

“The emergency surgery for intracranial hemorrhage required her to be put into a medically-induced coma and led to a diagnosis of a very serious condition: brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a condition she was born with,” the GoFundMe page read. “The trauma of being hit by the soccer ball and AVM triggered internal bleeding in her brain stem.”

>> Read more trending news

According to the Mayo Clinic, AVM is a tangle of abnormal blood vessels that connect the arteries and veins in the brain. The condition, which affects fewer than 1 percent of the population, most often occurs in the brain or spine.

An AVM in the brain disrupts the veins’ ability to carry oxygen-depleted blood back to a person’s lungs and heart. Though some cases of AVM cause symptoms, like headaches or seizures, it is common for them to be diagnosed when a person is being treated for another medical issue, or for them to be discovered only after the vessels rupture and cause a brain bleed. 

Brodie is survived by her mother and two sisters, including a twin sister who is studying at Kings College in London, the GoFundMe page said

The University of Alabama’s Alpha Delta Chi chapter, of which Brodie was a member, is holding a candlelight vigil Wednesday night in her honor. 

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our sister, Allie Brodie,” the Christian sorority’s Facebook page read on Sunday. “Though we only knew her a short time, Allie made a significant impact on our sisters.”

A high school friend, Stephen Zipkin, wrote on social media that Brodie’s death had “absolutely torn (him) apart.”

“There are so few people on the earth as intelligent, kind or passionate as she is,” Zipkin wrote. “I have been lucky to learn and graduate alongside her, to talk to her and to know her. I am happy that she was here and saddened that she was not here longer.” 

2 teens charged with attempted murder after alleged threats to school, staff

A Cherokee County, Georgia, community is counting its blessings.

>> Watch the news report here

Parents, officials and students have only to imagine what could have happened if an incendiary device found in a fellow student’s possession had been used at Etowah High School. 

That’s because someone knew something and called Woodstock police.

Alfred Dupree and Victoria McCurley, both 17, now face attempted murder charges after allegedly threatening staff members and the school itself, the sheriff’s office said. 

The teenagers are being charged as adults.

It all started Monday, when police met with Dupree and his parents about the alleged threats.

Police and the sheriff’s office acted quickly, taking the threats seriously and informing parents Tuesday.

“I am so thankful for the person who reported them,” Woodstock parent Paige Post told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I can't begin to imagine what kind of destruction could have been done.”

Authorities discovered the duo threatened specific people, whose identities have not been released, at the high school, Cherokee County sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Marianne Kelley said Wednesday. 

They also had a homemade incendiary device, authorities said.

>> Watch Wednesday's news conference here

When Andy Waldron, a parent of a senior at Etowah, heard about the threats Tuesday, he said he’d hoped it was just a kid mouthing off on social media.

He didn’t even think of keeping his son home from school.

Waldron told the AJC that his son has attended Cherokee County schools since kindergarten, and he has complete confidence in the sheriff’s office.

“They would not have put the kids in danger,” Waldron said. “I have enough faith in that and in the school district.”

>> On 2 students to be charged as adults after school threats, sheriff’s office says

Cherokee County schools spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby confirmed that the students were accused of plans to harm students and staff at their school.

“We will not tolerate violence — or threats of violence — at any of our schools,” Jacoby said in a statement sent to parents. “This stand will be reflected in the severe administrative disciplinary actions we will take against these students.” 

Waldron said the rumor mills were “ridiculous” and students were talking about a “hit list” and worried about the homecoming parade. “It’s terrifying,” Waldron said. 

He recalled the only other major incident he could remember at a local school: A student was stabbed following a fight at Woodstock High School last year.

>> On School stabbing suspect, 16, charged with aggravated assault

But when he learned more about what Dupree and McCurley were accused of, he was glad the authorities took such swift action.

“The real hero in the whole thing is whoever reported it,” Waldron said. “God bless them because they likely saved lives.”

Sheriff Frank Reynolds said a motive has not been determined, but the mental health of the teens may have been a factor.

“We have a lot of mental health issues and I think that may have been the cause here,” Reynolds said.

Dupree, of Acworth, and McCurley, of Woodstock, each face three counts of criminal attempt to commit murder and four counts of making terroristic threats and acts, Kelley said.

Those charges stem from statements made by Dupree not on social media but in his diary, Kelley said, which was discovered when investigators met with Dupree and his family Monday night. That’s also when authorities learned of McCurley’s alleged involvement. 

>> Read more trending news 

The two teenagers were described as friends and not romantically involved. Neither had been in trouble before with the law, Kelley said.

The threats could have been “moved forward with,” which resulted in multiple counts of the charges, Kelley said.

“Most of the information we received was from the personal diary, what was written down,” Kelley said. “It’s still an open investigation.”

Dupree and McCurley were taken for a medical assessment before being arrested and charged. 

Officials secured a search warrant for both students’ homes and found the flammable incendiary device at McCurley’s house, Kelley said.

Along with Dupree’s personal journal, police said they found firearms and a powdered substance.

“Both substances were turned over to the GBI to have them tested and determine the chemical material,” Kelley said.

The firearms, which Dupree’s family turned over to authorities, are not being considered evidence, Kelley said.

Authorities said the accused students also face charges of criminal attempt to commit arson and possession or transportation of a destructive device or explosive intending to kill, injure or destroy any public building. 

The arrest warrants were sealed by Chief Magistrate Judge James Drane III, Kelley said. 

Dupree and McCurley have a first court appearance scheduled for noon Thursday.

Etowah student Sam Jackson told WSB-TV that he was surprised to learn who was involved.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Because I knew both of those kids. They both rode my bus. They released the names today, everyone found out today, and everyone was just shocked.”

School prohibits senior photo of student holding gun

A high school in Maine has denied a student's senior photo depicting him holding a shotgun.Wade Gelinas told WCSH Friday that hunting is a tradition in his family, so he wanted his senior photo to capture the sport he loves.

>> Read more trending news


But officials at Bonny Eagle High School will not allow Gelinas to use the photo in the yearbook.Principal Lori Napolitano told WCSH the school's code of conduct prohibits weapons of any kind and that such photo requests are always denied.Gelinas plans on submitting a senior photo without a weapon.

Northern Michigan University offers marijuana studies degree

A new program at Northern Michigan University gives students a unique opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the business and science of marijuana.

>> Read more trending news 

The four-year degree program, formally called Medical Plant Chemistry, is in its inception this semester. About a dozen students are currently enrolled in the program, and more and more students are showing interest. 

“We’re gaining students every week,” Mark Paulsen, director of Northern Michigan’s chemistry department, said, according to USA Today. “With a full 12 months of recruitment, we expect that to grow.”

But the program isn’t as chilled out as one might think. 

“Obviously, the program is new and different and it might speak to a certain crowd. But for a student to succeed, they’re going to have to be very dedicated and motivated,” Brandon Canfield, the associate chemistry professor who developed the Medical Plant Chemistry curriculum, told the Detroit Free Press. “This is not an easy program. It’s a really intense, biology chemistry program.”

The program, which has basic requirements in general chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry and plant physiology, branches into two tracks: a bio-analytical track and an entrepreneurial track. Those who choose the bio-analytical track are to further their studies with courses in atomic spectrometry, genetics and biostatistics, while those who choose the entrepreneurial track are required to take courses in accounting, entrepreneurship and finance. 

“When (people) hear what my major is, there are a lot of people who say, ‘Wow, cool, dude. You’re going to get a degree growing marijuana,’” said sophomore student Alex Roth. “But it’s not an easy degree at all.”

Other universities across the country offer marijuana-related courses and certificate programs. But according to CNN, Northern Michigan’s program may be the first in the country to offer up a fully focused marijuana-based undergraduate degree.

Roth and other students enrolled in the program understand that their major doesn’t mean they’ll be growing the plant. They want to help bust stereotypes about marijuana and focus on medicinal properties to combat such conditions as chronic pain, nausea, seizures and glaucoma.

Twenty-nine states have legalized marijuana, WITI reported. Eight of those states, including Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington, have legalized recreational marijuana.

According to the San Francisco Gate, the marijuana industry is expected to grow more than 100 percent to $44 billion per year by 2020.

“Many of the states are legalizing different substances and they’re really looking for quality people to do the chemistry and the science,” university trustee James Haveman told the Detroit Free Press. “And it’s the university’s responsibility to produce those kinds of students for those kinds of jobs.”

“We’ve had an overwhelming response from growing operations, dispensaries and other businesses who want to take on our students as interns,” Canfield said. “I expect in the next couple years we’ll see quite a few of these programs popping up.”

Read more at USA TodayDetroit Free Press, and Northern Michigan University.

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