A judge declined to reinstate manslaughter charges against four former Pennsylvania State University fraternity members in the hazing-related death of a 19-year-old pledge last year. Although the judge refused to overturn a magistrate’s decision to nix the most serious charges against the men, she told prosecutors they could refile the charges. But a lower court judge twice dismissed the manslaughter charges, ruling prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to pursue the case. Timothy Piazza died from internal injuries and head trauma after falling several times following a night of drinking at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house. A spokesman for the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office said prosecutors are committed to seeking justice for Piazza and his family. —Leigh Jones
Critics blast Texas governor’s school safety plan
Education | Gun control advocates say nothing but limiting firearms will stop student killers
by Anna Johansen
Posted 6/06/18, 01:54 pm
Texas schools could send teachers to gun training courses as soon as this summer under a school safety plan Gov. Greg Abbott introduced last week. Abbott made the recommendations in response to the May 18 school shooting at Santa Fe High School, just south of Houston.
Some of the ideas detailed in the 43-page report require changes to state laws and would necessitate a special session of the Texas legislature, but schools can implement some proposed measures immediately.
Other recommendations include stiffening security at school entrances by installing metal detectors or adding vestibules with remote lock systems so that visitors can’t just walk in.
Critics of the plan questioned its lack of gun restrictions.
“The answer to preventing school shootings isn’t some deep-seated secret. It’s guns. It’s the fact that it’s frighteningly easy for dangerous people to get access to a gun, and this proposal does little to stop that,” said Kris Brown, co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Texas has 1.2 million people licensed to carry handguns, but 85 percent of school shooters didn’t purchase their own firearm. Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who is accused of killing 10 people in Santa Fe, allegedly used a shotgun and .38-caliber revolver that belonged to his father.
Abbott’s plan proposes some gun control measures, including a “red flag” law, similar to legislation recently passed in Florida, Vermont, and Maryland. The measure would allow law enforcement, family members, and others to file requests to remove firearms from a potentially dangerous person. Another reform would require firearm owners to report a lost or stolen gun within 10 days.
Other measures take the focus off guns entirely. Abbott recommends training people to identify symptoms of mental illness and wants to expand a program that identifies and helps students at risk of committing violence.
In his plan, Abbott advocates bolstering a program to put guns in the hands of teachers. Adults have succeeded in thwarting or mitigating two school shootings in the past month. An armed school resource officer shot a would-be attacker in Dixon, Ill., and a teacher tackled a gunman in Noblesville, Ind. Fifty-four percent of Texas parents with children in public schools support the idea of arming teachers, and an unnamed Santa Fe High School senior quoted in Abbott’s report also spoke up about it.
“Arming teachers, and not knowing who is armed, that is what we need,” she said.
Two New York fifth-graders last week achieved what many elementary school students might consider the pinnacle of accomplishment: They convinced their principal to mull a ban on homework. Christopher DeLeon and Niko Keelie claim their nightly work creates too much stress. School administrators told local media outlets they had already contemplated changing their approach to homework, allowing parents to request it instead of requiring it for all students. Among the many problems that seem immediately obvious: Won’t that just contribute to the achievement gap? Parents already more involved in their students’ schooling are likely to ask for the extra work while those whose children probably need the practice won’t. —L.J.
Parents from Parkland, Fla., have formed a super PAC with one goal: “remove the NRA from our political system.” Families vs Assault Rifles already has some big financial backers, according to founders, although they haven’t made a list public. They hope to raise $10 million from grassroots supporters, an amount their megadonors will match. The group claims it’s nonpartisan, but its opposition to the National Rifle Association almost always will pit it against Republicans. It plans to target competitive federal races with “negative” ads in the run up to the November elections. —L.J.
Anna is a graduate of World Journalism Institute.