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Broken chair photo highlights teacher’s fight for funding; strangers donate to outfit her classroom

The money just isn’t there, and teachers are marching in Oklahoma, tired of having to pay out of pocket for the basic supplies, like pencils, paper and even chairs, for their students.

It is a simple plastic chair that is so well worn that it is cracked in multiple places that has moved complete strangers to help teachers struggling to provide for their students.

>> Read more trending news 

Laurissa Kovacs is an art teacher at Puterbaugh Middle School in McAlester. She posted a photo to Facebook to show how her students have to learn. She brings in folding chairs from home because there are not enough chairs for her students, CNN reported

Her classroom is so small, and she has so many students, that she has to cut back on projects and activities.

In the post, which has been shared nearly 85,000 times, Kovacs explained that she makes only $27,730 take home pay after taxes and insurance. If she would go to another state, she could nearly double that. She says that most of the chairs in her classroom look like the broken blue seat and that when a student gets a good one, they take drastic measures to make sure the seat stays theirs by carrying it to the pencil sharpener instead of allowing it to be vacant for a few minutes.

But complete strangers are lining up to help Kovacs and other teachers in similar situations and have donated more than $44,000 in supplies, CNN reported.

Kovacs had set up a wish list through Amazon where anyone could buy supplies and have them sent to the school. Now, according to the wish list, Kovacs’ classroom has enough chairs for all students. And any extra supplies will be shared with other teachers in the school. 

Kovacs is among the thousands of Oklahoma teachers who are walking out of their classrooms and are marching on the state Capitol demanding more money for schools and higher pay for teachers, CNN reported.

Pennsylvania fourth-grader recounts bullying in Facebook video

A video posted by a Pennsylvania fourth-grader on social media detailing the bullying she has endured at school was taken down by Facebook and her account was suspended, but the girl’s mother has reposted it on her own page, saying, “I will be my daughter’s voice.”

>> Read more trending news

In the original Facebook video, Cassidy Warner is silent. She holds up sheets of white paper that describe the different kinds of bullying she has endured at John Adams Elementary School in Scranton -- including being spit upon, having her hair pulled and having milk spilled on her jacket, the Times-Tribune reported.

Cassidy lives with her father and two older sisters. When James Warner saw the video last week, he said his heart broke.

“A million things went through my head,” Warner told the Times-Tribune. “The first thing was, I was failing (in) my job as a parent.”

Cassidy’s Facebook page was suspended Wednesday, Warner said, most likely because it was reported because Facebook requires its users to be 13 to have an account. Cassidy’s mother, Jennifer Slater, set up the page years ago to help Cassidy keep in touch with family, Warner said.

Slater reposted Cassidy’s video on her own page the day her daughter’s account was suspended.

“Her story reached 22k views before the Scranton School District contacted Facebook and her Facebook got shut down because she’s not 13,” Slater wrote in her post.

“We had no idea (the video) would get that kind of response,” Warner said, adding later, “There were so many supportive comments.”

Warner said he met with Adams Principal Mario Emiliani on Monday, the Times-Tribune reported.

The school changed Cassidy’s lunch period and her recess, Warner said, and offered to put her in a different fourth-grade class. Cassidy decided to stay in the same class, Warner told the newspaper.

Superintendent Alexis Kirijan said she was aware of the situation at John Adams.

“The principal has taken this very seriously,” she told the Times-Tribune. “He’s conducted an investigation, looked into everything and talked to the parents.”

Kirijan said the district also had a policy in place to combat bullying.

Since the video has been reposted, it has been shared more than 1,700 times and viewed by more than 28,000 people.

“I will be my daughter’s voice,” Slater wrote on Facebook. “I will share her story, and I hope others will share, too.”

Blake Shelton's name found in Oklahoma girl's 1980s-era textbook amid school funding dispute

An Oklahoma parent took to Facebook to voice her concerns after she claimed to find that her daughter was using the same school textbook that country music star Blake Shelton used decades ago.

>> Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani shop in North Carolina before concert

Shelly Parker of Ada posted a picture of the reading textbook Wednesday as teachers across the Sooner State continued to protest at the state Capitol over low education funding and teacher pay.

>> See the Facebook post here

The picture included an inside look at the book, where "Blake Shelton 1982" is written on the inside of the front cover. The book appears to date back to 1981.

>> Read more trending news 

Parker said that though her daughter was excited that her textbook had belonged to Shelton, she was embarrassed and called for teachers, parents and support staffers to fight for education funding.

Shelton, 41, is an Ada native. People magazine named him the sexiest man alive in 2017.

Florida teacher accused of hosting white nationalist podcast submits letter of resignation


Dayanna Volitich, the Florida social studies teacher who allegedly hosted a white nationalist podcast, has submitted a letter of resignation according to WTSP in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Mullen told CNN that the district received an email indicating that Volitich had resigned. 

The resignation is reportedly not final until the school board accepts the resignation when it convenes on April 10.


A Florida school district removed a middle school teacher who reportedly hosted a white nationalist podcast, the Tampa Bay Times reported Monday. The teacher, meanwhile, said through her attorney that she "employed political satire and exaggeration,” and that there was “no truth” to the views expressed.

>> Read more trending news

The Citrus County School District announced Sunday that Dayanna Volitich, 25, a social studies teacher at Crystal River Middle School, has been removed from the classroom while it conducts an investigation.

The investigation comes after a Huffington Post report Saturday that alleged Volitich hosted a podcast called “Unapologetic” under the alias of “Tiana Dalichov.”

In a Feb. 26, podcast, “Dalichov” bragged that she kept her ideology a secret from school administrators and discussed white nationalism in her classroom, the Huffington Post reported.

Volitich could not be reached for comment. However, in a statement released by her attorney, she did not deny operating the podcast, NBC News reported.

She insisted, however, that her commentary was “for the purpose of attracting listenrs and followers, and generating conversation about the content discussed between myself and my guests."

In the statement, reported by NBC News, Volitich said she never revealed her political views to her students.

"The views 'Tiana Dalichov' espouses do not pervade my professional career," she said in the statement released by her attorney. "As an adult, my decisions are my own, and my family has nothing whatsoever to do with my social media accounts or my podcast.

“From them, I humbly ask for forgiveness, as it was never my intention to cause them grief while engaging in a hobby on my personal time."

Volitich could not immediately be reached for comment.

Crystal River Middle School, located about 80 miles north of Tampa, is nearly 90 percent white, according to the National Center for Education Statistics

Volitich became certified to teach in Florida in July 2016, according to state records. She graduated from Ohio State University in 2014 with a bachelor of arts degree, NBC News reported.

After the Huffington Post report, “Tiana Dalichov” set her Twitter account to private and deleted her podcast, the Times reported, adding that the Twitter account also has been deleted.

Texas teen accepted to 20 top-tier colleges, gets full-ride scholarships to all of them

A Texas teen has a big decision to make after he was accepted to 20 top-tier colleges – and scored a full-ride scholarship to each one.

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

According to CNN, Micheal Brown, a senior at Mirabeau B. Lamar High School in Houston, wowed admissions offices at every elite school he applied to, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Northwestern, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown and Vanderbilt. 

>> Watch his reaction to getting accepted to Stanford

The 17-year-old – who has a 4.68 grade-point average, 1540 SAT score and 34 ACT score – won "a combination of merit- and financial-based scholarships and grants" to the schools, the New York Times reported. He also earned other scholarships totaling $260,000, according to CNN.

"It's something I'm proud of because I see my hard work paying off, determination paying off, sacrifices paying off," he told CNN.

>> Read more trending news 

Brown – who participated in his high school's student government, Key Club, debate team and mock trial – said he plans to major in political science and possibly economics, CNN and the New York Times reported.

He plans to select a school May 1.

Read more here or here.

Alleged Howard University embezzler claims innocence after criticism on Twitter

Howard University has been thrust into the spotlight after a student allegedly stole thousands from the school’s financial aid office, according to recent reports. 

Last year, six employees were fired from the historically black university for misappropriating funds, WRC reported. Former student employee Tyrone Hankerson Jr. was purportedly at the center of the scandal. He’s been accused of stealing more than $400,000 of institutional funds used to help low-income students.

>> Read more trending news 

The Washington Post reported that a university investigation found that employees who got tuition benefits to cover the cost of classes also got university grants. The Post reported that the investigation found that the double dipping exceeded the cost of attendance and showed that the workers may have been embezzling.

On Wednesday, Howard President Wayne Frederick released a statement “to provide some relevant updates regarding Howard’s commitment to ensuring work integrity across all University offices, specifically the Office of Financial Aid,” he wrote.

Frederick announced in the statement that the school would be implementing new policies moving forward. He also confirmed that a previous investigation revealed several employees received grants and discounts that exceeded the cost of tuition and kept the difference.

Howard’s student newspaper The Hilltop reported that, in a follow up statement released later that day, Fredrick acknowledged frustrations about the incident.

“Hearing about the mishandling of funds at the University can be difficult to process. I can also understand how upsetting it is to feel that the University has not communicated with you regarding this incident,” Fredrick said. “The goal established at the onset of this investigation was to conduct it in a confidential manner that ensured a through examination of these issues without jeopardizing the integrity of the findings. However, that does not mitigate the sense of mistrust that many students and members of our community feel right now.”

Hankerson, who received his bachelors degree from the school and is a current graduate student there, released a statement Thursday through his attorney, writing, “I have done nothing illegal or wrong.”

On Thursday, the Howard University Student Association issued a statement to students in response to the news. The group also outlined questions about the alleged embezzlement, if the alleged embezzlement had been reported to authorities, and steps the university plans to take to reconcile student’s accounts that may have been affected by the alleged incidents.

“What this ordeal has revealed about the administration only confirms what many students have long suspected -- the leaders of our university are opponents of transparency and shared governance,” the statement said.

When news of the scandal hit the internet, many flocked to Twitter to express their thoughts. Several found the story baffling; some posted photos of the Hankerson in what appeared to be designer clothing.

Mom claims substitute teacher grabbed 8-year-old son by the throat

The mother of an 8-year-old said her child was attacked at an elementary school by a substitute teacher.

>> Watch the news report here

The assault happened Monday at Evans Elementary School in east Memphis, Tennessee.

WHBQ spoke with the mother and child. Tyler Tate said he was grabbed by the throat.

He said the substitute teacher called him to her desk and asked him what the N-word stood for. He said he replied, "Gangsta," and that's when he said the attack began.

>> Georgia teacher, coach accused of sex with student, touching another

It's the timidness of a child offset by the anger of a mother. "I feel bad because they're telling us that it's a safe zone and that they're going to keep him safe, and nothing should happen," said Contrease Tate, Tyler’s mother.

Mrs. Tate took photos after taking her child to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. He had scrapes on his neck and arms and was having trouble breathing after being grabbed by the neck, she said. 

"She punched Tyler. That's what Tyler tell me. She punched him in the chest, ran his head into the wall, tripped him in the hallway," said Mrs. Tate.

>> School cancels active shooter training due to trainer's 'inappropriate' social media posts

Shelby County Schools said via email:

"These are very serious claims, and school staff immediately notified the proper authorities for further investigation. This substitute will not be eligible to work in a school until the investigation is completed."

Mrs. Tate said she was never notified and only found out after school. At first, she said the principal blamed her son.

"They told me he was suspended for 45 days and that he couldn't come to school, but when I told her that we were going to Le Bonheur, she said he could come to school and that he's not suspended for 45 days," Mrs. Tate said.

>> Read more trending news 

WHBQ's cameras were there as Mrs. Tate received withdrawal papers from the school. She said her son will eventually heal from the physical scars. It's the mental ones that will take a little longer.

Memphis police and the Department of Children Services are investigating

School cancels active shooter training due to trainer's 'inappropriate' social media posts

Sam Rosenberg is clearing the air and defending his active shooter security training course after the North Allegheny School District decided to abruptly cancel his ASSERT program.

His McCandless area security firm, INPAX Academy of Personal Protection, was set to teach the free hands-on course to parents following the mass shooting at a Florida high school.

>> Read more trending news 

"We were surprised! We knew that there was a sort of concerned parent complaint," he said.

The district announced just before the Wednesday night class that it was canceled because of “unforeseen circumstances.”

The North Allegheny Schools Superintendent said, in part, that “a district parent shared concerns regarding inappropriate content on social media channels affiliated with INPAX.” 

The district alleged those posts violated district policy and weren’t in line with their mission or vision

Rosenberg said the old posts were dug up from his personal Facebook page and weren’t meant to cause harm, but the damage apparently had already been done.

"I was very surprised by that, but at the same time, listen... that was their decision. I understand it. I hope that we have an opportunity to continue our relationship," he said.

"We welcome everybody. This is not about anyone's opinions. About anything political or anything else ... this is about safety."

Georgia teacher, coach accused of sex with student, touching another

Detectives with Georgia's Gwinnett County Police Department have charged former teacher Brad Elliott, 37, of Waleska with one count of sexual battery and one count of sexual assault.

>> Florida woman accused of sexual relationship with boy

Elliott was a teacher and football coach at Buford High School. There were two female victims, both students in Elliott’s classes, police said. Both incidents reportedly occurred on Buford High School property during the current school year. 

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

He is charged with sexual battery for allegedly touching one victim on the buttocks. He is charged with sexual assault for alleged consensual sexual contact between Elliott and a second victim. It is illegal for a teacher to have sexual contact with a student at their own school, even if both parties are over the age of consent. 

>> Special-education teacher accused of sex with student in her classroom

Elliott recently resigned from Buford High School. He was previously a teacher at Roswell High School. 

Elliott turned himself in Wednesday evening and was in custody at the Gwinnett County Detention Center. His bail was set at $22,000, according to a release from the police department. 

>> Read more trending news 

Detectives are investigating the possibility of additional victims and encourage them to come forward. Anyone who has information about additional victims or crimes involving Elliott is encouraged to contact GCPD detectives at 770-513-5300.

Same-sex couple in Mississippi petition to become prom king, queen

A same-sex couple in northern Mississippi have started a petition to be prom king and queen at Hernando High School.

>> Read more trending news

Mallory Boone and Kenzie Ellenberger have gotten more than 1,350 signatures on their petition so far.

They wanted Ellenberger to be placed on the ballot for prom king.

The couple said it was unfair that only a traditional couple could be named prom king and queen.

"Kenzie Ellenberger is trying to be nominated for Prom King. Our principal, Duane Case, has denied that she can be nominated (or) to even be on the ballot for Prom King, when he originally told her YES.” Boone wrote on the petition page. “We wanted to represent the people in Hernando Mississippi who are apart of the LGBTQ community, but with him denying us that wish, we need YOUR help! We will NOT give up! We will keep fighting for what we believe."

Boone told the Clarion-Ledger that she pleased by the response.

“I originally only wanted 200 people to sign and we have a thousand," Boone told the Jackson newspaper. "It's crazy."

The prom is Friday at the Columns in downtown Memphis. Boone and Ellenberger said they will attend.

The DeSoto County School District released a statement that said seniors are “nominated for prom royalty by their peers.”

“School administrators were asked about a couple that wanted to be Prom King and Prom Queen. Students were informed that individuals, not couples, are elected to the court,” the statement said. “Using an online nomination process, students select one male and one female student to represent the senior class. This process ensures that both males and females can participate and serve on the court."

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