February 11, 2014

Charles Oliver: Average academics? No pizza for you!

Charles Oliver

— • Parents of many students at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, Md., are complaining about the school’s efforts to reward high achievers. The school threw an “Academic Achievement Celebration” during the final period one day. Students who got all As were allowed to dance and served pizza. Students with Bs and Cs could attend the dance after the school day ended, and after all the pizza was gone. Failing students were not allowed to attend. Some parents claimed the dance was elitist and discriminatory.

• The Memphis, Tenn., police department says it has more than 12,000 untested rape kits. Some of them are more than a decade old. Officials estimate it will cost more than $4 million to process all the kits.

• The Brazil, Ind., police department removed a drug dog from duty after it bit an 11-year-old boy. The dog was part of a mock drug search at the local courthouse, which was being done to educate fifth-graders about the dangers of drugs. It probably made them more aware of the dangers of drug searches.

• It took a seven-year court battle for Rahinah Ibrahim to get her name removed from the U.S. government’s “no fly” list. The government fought her every step of the way, at one point even trying to bar her daughter, a U.S. citizen, from returning from a trip abroad to testify in the case. Numerous government officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, told the courts they couldn’t even reveal why she was placed on the list. It would endanger public safety, they said. But the courts finally forced them to reveal why Ibrahim had been placed on the list, and when the judge found out why, he ordered them to remove her name. So why was she put on the list and refused permission to board airplanes? An FBI agent had misunderstood directions and accidentally checked the wrong box on a report on Ibrahim.

• The Pinellas County, Fla., sheriff’s department fired deputy Paul Martin for asking inappropriate questions of a 17-year-old alleged sexual assault victim. Martin reportedly asked her if she was into lesbian sex, asked her about exchanging sex for money, told her he liked to go to strip clubs and, after she mentioned that she intentionally cut herself, tried to lift her shirt. Martin said he was trying to make her uncomfortable so she’d tell the truth.

• Drivers in Memphis, Tenn., came across an odd sight on Crumpler Road. A public works crew restriping the street had simply painted over a large pile of leaves on the street. A city official said that’s actually their policy. They say it’s easier just to paint over any obstructions, then come back later and fix it.

• Officials locked down Harvey Austin Elementary School in Buffalo, N.Y., for more than three hours after they received reports a man had been seen at the school with a gun. A SWAT team searched the school and charged Dwayne Ferguson, who teaches an after-school program at the school, with two counts of criminal possession of a firearm. Ferguson is well known in the state as a pro-gun control activist. Friends in the gun control movement say he probably didn’t realize he had a gun on him when he went to the school.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.