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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

GA family calls for changes following threats to Muslim student

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Wednesday, January 3, 2024   

The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Georgia and the family of a Warner Robins Middle School student are calling for policy changes from the Houston County Board of Education after a classroom incident last month.

A 13-year-old Muslim student was allegedly threatened with beheading by her social studies teacher, after she asked him why he displayed an Israeli flag in his classroom.

Azka Mahmood, executive director of CAIR-Georgia, said the incident occurred on Dec. 7, but it was another week before the family became fully aware of the situation, due to media coverage.

"There's a gap of so many days when the community is completely exposed to this man," Mahmood pointed out. "That was very disturbing to them, that they didn't know how serious it was and that the bail was so low that it was completely non-deterrent."

The incident was reported to the school duty officer and the Houston County Sheriff's Office, leading to teacher Benjamin Reese's arrest the next day. However, according to the student's father, "families are not entitled to information under school investigation, regardless of the severity of the danger to students."

The Houston School Board has not responded to inquiries for this story about Reese's employment status or its communication policies.

In a statement released Tuesday, Jan. 2, the family urged the Houston County Board of Education to revise its information-sharing policy between schools and families, saying the lack of transparency leaves families unprepared for potential threats. They also raised concerns about what they see as the teacher's bail being set "too low" by the Magistrate Court of Houston County.

Mahmood emphasized the parents view this as a matter of public safety.

"They also want the police to look into maybe rearresting him or making sure that there's some kind of safety mechanism where they keep an eye on him," Mahmood explained. "Whether it be surveillance or just arresting him again or something like that."

In the statement, the family asked the school board to revoke Mr. Reese's Georgia ethics assessment certification to prevent him from teaching in the future.


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