Janet and Randy Jackson
Janet and Randy Jackson

Dallas ISD hosts education summits for community

The Dallas Independent School District will launch a planning program to create a strategic and innovative vision for Dallas ISD learning, technology and facilities design. To launch this process, the district will host four education summits and encourages all stakeholders to attend one of the summits.

Parents, students, district staff, business leaders and community members will have an opportunity to share their innovative vision of the future.

Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the learning, technology and facilities planning process and hear from a student panel.

Upcoming meetings:

• Nov. 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. at W.T. White High School, located at 4505 Ridgeside Drive and South Oak Cliff High School, located at 3601 S. Marsalis Ave.

• Nov. 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Emmett J. Conrad High School, located at 7502 Fair Oaks Ave. and W.W. Samuell High School and Early College, 8928 Palisade Drive.

Free childcare and refreshments will be provided at each location.

Additionally, community members can provide feedback through an online survey now through Nov. 10. The survey will also be posted on the district and campus websites. The district is also hosting a series of focus groups representing various stakeholder groups through early November.

Information, feedback and input gathered at the summits, focus groups and from the survey will be used by a design team comprised of citizens and district staff who will create a community-focused strategic direction for technology and facilities. This strategic direction will include a set of community beliefs, call to action, goals, action steps and a learner profile. It will allow also Dallas ISD to measure student learning and serve as a guide for the district as it makes future decisions regarding instruction, technology, budgeting, staffing and facility planning.

As the district embarks on this process, all summits, documents and resources will be posted online at www.dallasisd.org/envisiondallasisd for community members to stay informed. The district will provide updates throughout this process.

Janet Jackson visits small childhood home in Indiana

GARY, Ind. (AP) – Singer Janet Jackson and her brother Randy Jackson have visited their childhood home in Gary, Indiana, and talked with local high school students.

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports that the Jacksons made the visit Friday, a day after Janet Jackson’s concert in the Chicago area. Janet Jackson told students at Roosevelt High School that she started crying when she saw the small house. She said, “me and my family are so blessed. I’m so thankful.”

The 51-year-old said she was 8 years old the last time she was in Gary. The family moved out of the industrial city about 30 miles southwest of Chicago after the Jackson 5 recorded their first album in 1969, when Janet Jackson was a toddler.

She also admitted she misses performing with her siblings.

Louisiana college sought for teacher training consortium

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Louisiana’s education department is looking for a college in the state willing to be the home base for a teacher training initiative.

The education department released its application for higher education institutions to apply to house the Louisiana Educator Research Consortium for a five-year period.

The college that hosts the consortium will organize research, convene experts from around the state to do research, seek grant financing and work on teacher preparation policy. The college will receive $50,000 in start-up funds to begin the consortium’s work.

Superintendent of Education John White said the consortium’s research and work will culminate with recommendations on how to better prepare educators for the classroom.

The application deadline is Nov. 17. A committee representing K-12 and higher education agencies will choose the college host.

High school coach blasts ref who reviled anthem protest

MONROE, N.J. (AP) – A high school football coach criticized a referee who refused to officiate a game after members of the opposing team knelt during the national anthem.

Referees Ernie Lunardelli and his son, Anthony, said they told officials from Colts Neck and Monroe high schools before Friday night’s game they would walk off the field if any players protested. They said they respect players’ right to protest but believe such acts are disrespectful.

Colts Neck Coach Darian Barnes told NJ.com that Ernie Lunardelli yelled at Monroe players after some knelt, and he had to be pulled off the field, accusations Lunardelli denies. Lunardelli said he only stopped on his way off the field after a coach from Monroe yelled at him.

“One of the coaches said something and it kind of irked me, and I just turned around and I was looking to see who it was,” Lunardelli said. “Nobody pulled me; I walked off.”

Barnes agrees referees and players should be able to express their views but says Lunardelli was “a coward” to yell at the teenage players.

“It wasn’t difficult to watch those kids kneel and it wasn’t difficult to watch him leave the game because of it,” Barnes said. “His anger was difficult. His anger, the way he yelled, the look on his face – it bothered … me.”

Barnes also said he was told before the game by the head referee that the crew had asked the Monroe players who might kneel to stay in the locker room for the anthem to avoid any problems.

The trend of kneeling during the national anthem started in the NFL, where some players kneel to protest social injustices, particularly against African Americans.

ACLU wins appeal in ‘White supremacist’ defamation suit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A Tennessee woman does not have to pay thousands of dollars to a man who she called a “White supremacist” on Facebook after she saw that his vehicle had bumper stickers promoting the Confederacy and a Southern nationalist group, a court ruled Oct. 26.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals’ Middle Division reversed a lower court’s decision, finding that defendant Lisa Rung hadn’t defamed Robert Weidlich and therefore doesn’t owe $7,000 in damages, The Tennessean reported.

Representing the defendant, the American Civil Liberties Union said Rung was offended by comments Weidlich made against the LGBT community at a school board meeting. At the time, Weidlich’s wife was considering running for the school board in Franklin County. After the meeting, Rung noticed Weidlich’s bumper stickers, including one promoting the League of the South, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a neo-Confederate hate group. Another featured the word “SECEDE” next to a picture of a Confederate battle flag.

Rung later posted a photo of the vehicle on Facebook, referring to Weidlich’s family as “White supremacist(s).”

Weidlich, then sued, testifying that publicity surrounding the post had hurt his auto-mechanic business. He denied being a White supremacist or being associated with any White supremacist groups.

The court ruled that Rung’s statement was a “grave accusation,” but she had not made it without context and had instead crucially included a photo of the bumper stickers in the post.

“Anyone reading Rung’s post had full access to the facts available to Rung – the photo. So informed, readers were free to accept or reject Rung’s opinion as they saw fit,” the court wrote.

It is unclear whether Weidlich plans to appeal the ruling.

In a statement, ACLU-TN’s legal director Thomas Castelli said that speaking out without “fear of unwarranted legal retaliation is particularly important in today’s heated political climate.”

“Expressing your opinion that someone is a racist when they do things that are racist is not unlawful – it’s protected by the First Amendment,” Castelli said.

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