December 22, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Lenox panel approves goals designed to enhance school culture, denounce …

LENOX - The School Department’s Strategic Study Committee has approved goals for enhancing school culture at the elementary and at the middle and high school.

The committee also voted during its last meeting to adopt recommendations from study groups that focused on district leadership and staff professionalism.

Among the key school culture targets is a zero-tolerance policy for bullying. Interim Superintendent Timothy Lee pointed out that the district gets two reports a year, on average, involving such incidents.

“It’s important to encourage those types of reports being done,” said committee member Thomas Romeo. “If the bullying actually occurs, then we should be encouraging people to do the forms. It has to be meaningful, people have to feel comfortable doing them.”

Typically, parents submit the reports at Morris Elementary, while students fill them out at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School.

Other goals include improved attendance, a 100 percent graduation rate, a decline in the number of students choosing to attend other schools, and overall improvement in academic achievement. Lee suggested that measurements reflecting school-culture targets would be presented in each school’s annual improvement plans.

Discussions on improving school culture focused on “what’s going to build pride in the schools and have the students in a motivated, ready place feeling good about themselves being there every day,” he explained.

According to the document, “Staff and students will hold each other accountable for maintaining a positive learning environment. Students, staff and families will communicate effectively and respectfully.”

The strategic plan also calls for students, staff and families to “value, respect and appreciate all community members.” All students would be given “multiple opportunities to provide service to schools and community.”

Action steps include explicit instruction for students about positive language, staff training in language and consistent measures, and use of parent advisory groups to bolster a positive learning environment. Staff workshops to develop “cultural norms” are recommended, as well as support for all students to participate in curricular and extra-curricular activities.

On school district leadership, committee member Deborah Kain cited “a culture of open communication and comprehensive access” as a top priority to encourage teamwork and shared information.

The plan calls for leaders to be “respectful in word, tone and behavior in fostering open, two-way dialogue” and to convey “consistent messages of respect and empathy, both in verbal and nonverbal communication.” In addition, the district leadership would “willingly accept constructive analysis and criticism” and “strive not to show favoritism.”

Proposed action steps include increasing diversity through minority hiring over the next five years. The goal seeks a demonstration of “active pursuit of minority staff annually through records of postings and advertisements, proven through hiring results.”

The study group on professionalism listed major goals such as public acknowledgement of accomplishments by faculty and staff, a culture that attracts and retains the best teachers and staff, and financial support for professional development, including reimbursements for the faculty.

Professional development points are necessary for teacher evaluations, license renewals and for recertification.

“Quality, relevance and connection to teachers’ needs are what really matters,” Lee said.

The district will be a professional learning community with shared leadership and consistent emphasis on “shared ownership” for the schools’ mission and for student success, the document stated. “Professional excellence includes the ability to evoke a cooperative spirit among faculty and staff,” the study group wrote.

Following a review by the district’s consultant, Steve Kutno of PCG Education, the full School Committee is expected to discuss and vote on the overall strategic plan next month.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/local/ci_27182027/lenox-panel-drafts-goals-designed-enhance-school-culture

at 2:12 pm

Brunswick schools face lawsuit over bullying allegations

BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) — The Maine Human Rights Commission says it plans legal action against the Brunswick School District over a former junior high school student who said he was bullied, harassed and assaulted by other students who thought he was gay.

Executive Director Amy Sneirson tells The Times Record (http://bit.ly/1GO9aEi ) the commission’s lawsuit will be aimed at “improving policies” within the district.

The mother of the former student alleges that between August 2010 and August 2012 her son was subjected to repeated instances of bullying due to his “perceived sexual orientation” that went to such extremes that the boy became suicidal.

He stopped attending Brunswick Junior High School after telling his mother he had been sexually assaulted three times.

No criminal charges were ever filed.

The district’s superintendent said he could not comment.

___

Information from: The Times Record, http://www.timesrecord.com

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Brunswick-schools-face-lawsuit-over-bullying-5973156.php

at 8:13 am

Everyone Lost Their Minds Over North Korea’s Bullying

At the end of November, hackers calling themselves the Guardians of Peace attacked Sony Pictures Entertainment. The resulting media frenzy was a mix of political speculation, TMZ-style reporting of corporate minutia and cyber-hysteria.

Anonymous criminals with computers humiliated a multi-billion dollar corporation, a movie studio censored a major Christmas release and the president of the United States promised to do something about it.

The Sony hack is a big story. Misinformation is rampant. It’s an important story, too—and involves much more than just a sabotaged comedy.

It tells us a lot about the interconnected world we live in. It reveals people’s ignorance and fear of all things “cyber,” Hollywood’s regressive and cowardly attitude in the past decade and the world’s perception of the most perplexing dictatorship on earth.

To understand what’s going on, it’s important to establish a timeline of the relevant facts.

On Nov. 24, employees at Sony Pictures came into work and discovered they were locked out of their computers. A red skeleton loomed behind a wall of text on their monitors.

“We’ve already warned you,” the message read. “This is just the beginning.” The Guardians of Peace had hacked Sony.

On Nov. 26, high quality versions of upcoming Sony films hit the Internet. So did a hundred gigs worth of internal documents—including salaries, scandalous emails and profit and loss sheets.

The media spent the next week picking through Sony’s dirty laundry. On Nov. 28, the tech site Re/Code reported that Sony was investigating North Korea’s possible involvement in the hack.

The site speculated that the hack was retaliation for the upcoming release of the Seth Rogen comedy, The Interview, in which he and James Franco assassinate North Korean dictator King Jong Un at the behest of the CIA.

The Guardians of Peace had not yet mentioned The Interview.

Other news outlets picked up Re/Code’s story and ran with it. Within hours, the narrative of hackers taking down Sony at the behest of Pyongyang was gospel.

On Dec. 16, the Guardians of Peace mentioned The Interview for the first time. They threatened 9/11-style attacks on any theaters screening the dick-joke laden, feel-good assassination comedy.

The Department of Homeland Security insisted the threat wasn’t credible, but America’s major theater chains decided not to take any chances. AMC, Cinemark and Regal all pulled the movie from their holiday rotation. Other major venues followed suit.

The next day—in a remarkable act of cowardice—Sony Pictures pulled the film. It canceled press screenings and claimed it had no plans of either a direct-to-DVD or video-on-demand release.

On the Dec. 19, the FBI claimed it had evidence the Guardians of Peace were operating in North Korea. Later that day, during his year-end address, Pres. Barack Obama said that Sony was wrong to pull the movie, and promised a proportional response to the hack.

https://medium.com/war-is-boring/everyone-lost-their-minds-because-north-korea-is-a-bully-d3da3d72f169

at 8:13 am

Everyone Lost Their Minds Over North Korea’s Bullying

At the end of November, hackers calling themselves the Guardians of Peace attacked Sony Pictures Entertainment. The resulting media frenzy was a mix of political speculation, TMZ-style reporting of corporate minutia and cyber-hysteria.

Anonymous criminals with computers humiliated a multi-billion dollar corporation, a movie studio censored a major Christmas release and the president of the United States promised to do something about it.

The Sony hack is a big story. Misinformation is rampant. It’s an important story, too—and involves much more than just a sabotaged comedy.

It tells us a lot about the interconnected world we live in. It reveals people’s ignorance and fear of all things “cyber,” Hollywood’s regressive and cowardly attitude in the past decade and the world’s perception of the most perplexing dictatorship on earth.

To understand what’s going on, it’s important to establish a timeline of the relevant facts.

On Nov. 24, employees at Sony Pictures came into work and discovered they were locked out of their computers. A red skeleton loomed behind a wall of text on their monitors.

“We’ve already warned you,” the message read. “This is just the beginning.” The Guardians of Peace had hacked Sony.

On Nov. 26, high quality versions of upcoming Sony films hit the Internet. So did a hundred gigs worth of internal documents—including salaries, scandalous emails and profit and loss sheets.

The media spent the next week picking through Sony’s dirty laundry. On Nov. 28, the tech site Re/Code reported that Sony was investigating North Korea’s possible involvement in the hack.

The site speculated that the hack was retaliation for the upcoming release of the Seth Rogen comedy, The Interview, in which he and James Franco assassinate North Korean dictator King Jong Un at the behest of the CIA.

The Guardians of Peace had not yet mentioned The Interview.

Other news outlets picked up Re/Code’s story and ran with it. Within hours, the narrative of hackers taking down Sony at the behest of Pyongyang was gospel.

On Dec. 16, the Guardians of Peace mentioned The Interview for the first time. They threatened 9/11-style attacks on any theaters screening the dick-joke laden, feel-good assassination comedy.

The Department of Homeland Security insisted the threat wasn’t credible, but America’s major theater chains decided not to take any chances. AMC, Cinemark and Regal all pulled the movie from their holiday rotation. Other major venues followed suit.

The next day—in a remarkable act of cowardice—Sony Pictures pulled the film. It canceled press screenings and claimed it had no plans of either a direct-to-DVD or video-on-demand release.

On the Dec. 19, the FBI claimed it had evidence the Guardians of Peace were operating in North Korea. Later that day, during his year-end address, Pres. Barack Obama said that Sony was wrong to pull the movie, and promised a proportional response to the hack.

https://medium.com/war-is-boring/everyone-lost-their-minds-because-north-korea-is-a-bully-d3da3d72f169

at 8:13 am

Everyone Lost Their Minds Over North Korea’s Bullying

At the end of November, hackers calling themselves the Guardians of Peace attacked Sony Pictures Entertainment. The resulting media frenzy was a mix of political speculation, TMZ-style reporting of corporate minutia and cyber-hysteria.

Anonymous criminals with computers humiliated a multi-billion dollar corporation, a movie studio censored a major Christmas release and the president of the United States promised to do something about it.

The Sony hack is a big story. Misinformation is rampant. It’s an important story, too—and involves much more than just a sabotaged comedy.

It tells us a lot about the interconnected world we live in. It reveals people’s ignorance and fear of all things “cyber,” Hollywood’s regressive and cowardly attitude in the past decade and the world’s perception of the most perplexing dictatorship on earth.

To understand what’s going on, it’s important to establish a timeline of the relevant facts.

On Nov. 24, employees at Sony Pictures came into work and discovered they were locked out of their computers. A red skeleton loomed behind a wall of text on their monitors.

“We’ve already warned you,” the message read. “This is just the beginning.” The Guardians of Peace had hacked Sony.

On Nov. 26, high quality versions of upcoming Sony films hit the Internet. So did a hundred gigs worth of internal documents—including salaries, scandalous emails and profit and loss sheets.

The media spent the next week picking through Sony’s dirty laundry. On Nov. 28, the tech site Re/Code reported that Sony was investigating North Korea’s possible involvement in the hack.

The site speculated that the hack was retaliation for the upcoming release of the Seth Rogen comedy, The Interview, in which he and James Franco assassinate North Korean dictator King Jong Un at the behest of the CIA.

The Guardians of Peace had not yet mentioned The Interview.

Other news outlets picked up Re/Code’s story and ran with it. Within hours, the narrative of hackers taking down Sony at the behest of Pyongyang was gospel.

On Dec. 16, the Guardians of Peace mentioned The Interview for the first time. They threatened 9/11-style attacks on any theaters screening the dick-joke laden, feel-good assassination comedy.

The Department of Homeland Security insisted the threat wasn’t credible, but America’s major theater chains decided not to take any chances. AMC, Cinemark and Regal all pulled the movie from their holiday rotation. Other major venues followed suit.

The next day—in a remarkable act of cowardice—Sony Pictures pulled the film. It canceled press screenings and claimed it had no plans of either a direct-to-DVD or video-on-demand release.

On the Dec. 19, the FBI claimed it had evidence the Guardians of Peace were operating in North Korea. Later that day, during his year-end address, Pres. Barack Obama said that Sony was wrong to pull the movie, and promised a proportional response to the hack.

https://medium.com/war-is-boring/everyone-lost-their-minds-because-north-korea-is-a-bully-d3da3d72f169

at 8:13 am

Everyone Lost Their Minds Over North Korea’s Bullying

At the end of November, hackers calling themselves the Guardians of Peace attacked Sony Pictures Entertainment. The resulting media frenzy was a mix of political speculation, TMZ-style reporting of corporate minutia and cyber-hysteria.

Anonymous criminals with computers humiliated a multi-billion dollar corporation, a movie studio censored a major Christmas release and the president of the United States promised to do something about it.

The Sony hack is a big story. Misinformation is rampant. It’s an important story, too—and involves much more than just a sabotaged comedy.

It tells us a lot about the interconnected world we live in. It reveals people’s ignorance and fear of all things “cyber,” Hollywood’s regressive and cowardly attitude in the past decade and the world’s perception of the most perplexing dictatorship on earth.

To understand what’s going on, it’s important to establish a timeline of the relevant facts.

On Nov. 24, employees at Sony Pictures came into work and discovered they were locked out of their computers. A red skeleton loomed behind a wall of text on their monitors.

“We’ve already warned you,” the message read. “This is just the beginning.” The Guardians of Peace had hacked Sony.

On Nov. 26, high quality versions of upcoming Sony films hit the Internet. So did a hundred gigs worth of internal documents—including salaries, scandalous emails and profit and loss sheets.

The media spent the next week picking through Sony’s dirty laundry. On Nov. 28, the tech site Re/Code reported that Sony was investigating North Korea’s possible involvement in the hack.

The site speculated that the hack was retaliation for the upcoming release of the Seth Rogen comedy, The Interview, in which he and James Franco assassinate North Korean dictator King Jong Un at the behest of the CIA.

The Guardians of Peace had not yet mentioned The Interview.

Other news outlets picked up Re/Code’s story and ran with it. Within hours, the narrative of hackers taking down Sony at the behest of Pyongyang was gospel.

On Dec. 16, the Guardians of Peace mentioned The Interview for the first time. They threatened 9/11-style attacks on any theaters screening the dick-joke laden, feel-good assassination comedy.

The Department of Homeland Security insisted the threat wasn’t credible, but America’s major theater chains decided not to take any chances. AMC, Cinemark and Regal all pulled the movie from their holiday rotation. Other major venues followed suit.

The next day—in a remarkable act of cowardice—Sony Pictures pulled the film. It canceled press screenings and claimed it had no plans of either a direct-to-DVD or video-on-demand release.

On the Dec. 19, the FBI claimed it had evidence the Guardians of Peace were operating in North Korea. Later that day, during his year-end address, Pres. Barack Obama said that Sony was wrong to pull the movie, and promised a proportional response to the hack.

https://medium.com/war-is-boring/everyone-lost-their-minds-because-north-korea-is-a-bully-d3da3d72f169

at 8:12 am

MIAA doesn’t conduct criminal background checks on referees

Posted by in School



Globe staff photo

Philip Paul is pictured as he refereed a basketball game between Holyoke CC and Roxbury CC at the Reggie Lewis Center.

Late on a stormy New Hampshire night in the summer of 1986, a convicted sex offender named Philip Paul was working as an athletic trainer at Keene State College when he sexually molested a summer camper, a 15-year-old boy.

Paul, who was 32, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assault and was sent to the county jail. Four days later, he sexually assaulted another inmate, a judge ruled, and he was ordered to serve the balance of his 2½- to 7-year sentence at the New Hampshire state prison.

Continue reading below

Today, Paul is a registered sex offender, living in Framingham and classified as Level 2 — a moderate risk to reoffend. He is also a regular in referee pinstripes on basketball courts around the region, one of a number of ex-convicts who are listed by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association as qualified basketball officials, eligible to judge right from wrong for student-athletes in contests across the Commonwealth.

A limited review of state court records by the Globe found at least seven other referees who have been convicted of serious crimes — offenses ranging from distributing cocaine in a school zone and illegally possessing handguns on the streets of Boston to larceny, embezzlement, and gambling.

But most of their crimes have been a secret to the public because almost no one responsible for ensuring the safety of the state’s student-athletes, including the MIAA, is checking the criminal records of the 7,600 referees who are eligible to officiate in Massachusetts schools.

The MIAA lags behind a national movement of state high school athletic associations launching screening programs for officials. Consequently, no one knows how many current or former offenders are calling fouls on the state’s student-athletes.

“It’s a head-scratcher,” said Steve Ray, a longtime high school basketball coach and referee in Pittsfield, where Darryell Drumgoole was convicted in 1999 of distributing cocaine in a school zone.

Drumgoole is now a certified basketball official who referees school games in Berkshire County.

“You see guys with drug convictions and you wonder how they got through the system,’’ Ray said.

Like other ex-offenders identified by the Globe, Drumgoole said he has turned around his life in the many years since his conviction. Drumgoole said he has paid his debt to society in prison time and should be allowed to officiate. Paul declined to comment.

At least 20 states require criminal background checks for athletic officials in schools, and Tom Lopes, executive director of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, said he expects every state one day to screen referees for criminal records.

But there has been little action in Massachusetts. The vast majority of sports associations that train and certify referees listed by the MIAA do not conduct criminal background checks. Nor do school districts.

State law requires school employees and volunteers who may have unmonitored, direct access to students to be screened for a criminal record. Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, said the superintendents believe the referee checks are necessary and have asked the MIAA to conduct them, to no avail.

On Friday, the MIAA’s associate executive director, Richard Pearson, said his organization is taking the matter “very seriously.’’ He said the MIAA’s board of directors is scheduled to receive a final report on the issue in February and will decide no sooner than next fall whether to begin screening referees for criminal records.

Scott said school superintendents consider the issue urgent enough that they may ask the Massachusetts Legislature to require the MIAA to administer the checks.

“We need to make sure we are doing our due diligence,’’ he said.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Thomas A. Scott

The Globe screened the state’s 2,500 certified basketball officials by reviewing the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry and criminal dockets at the state’s 20 superior courts. Basketball officials represent the largest group of certified referees who work inside school buildings.

The review did not cover offenses tried in the state’s 70 district courts because no central database is publicly available for records in those jurisdictions. District courts handle most of the state’s criminal cases: felonies punishable by up to five years in jail, all misdemeanors, as well as violations of city and town laws. Nor did the Globe review cover out-of-state jurisdictions and federal courts.

Still, even the limited sampling yielded at least eight cases that could disqualify the former offenders from officiating in some states that conduct background screening. Some of their offenses occurred long ago, and several of the referees are officiating college or recreational games rather than school contests.

In Paul’s case, the MIAA has taken no action despite knowing about the worst of his criminal record for nearly a decade. He had been officiating school games for nearly 10 years when he was charged in Peabody in 2003 with failing to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts. The MIAA was made aware of his Peabody arrest and New Hampshire convictions by newspaper reports on the North Shore in 2005.

Those reports did not cite Paul’s arrest at Moakley Park in South Boston in 2002 on a charge of indecent exposure. Police officers allegedly witnessed him engaging in sex there with an adult male. The charge was dismissed on the condition that Paul pay $300 in court costs.

Nor did those news reports cite Paul’s conviction for sexually assaulting a minor in Fairfield, Conn., in 1977, a year after he graduated from the University of Bridgeport. He received a 30-day suspended sentence in that case and a one-year conditional discharge.

The news coverage effectively cost Paul his Massachusetts license as an independent clinical social worker. State records show he received the license in 1996 and lost it in 2005 after the Board of Registration of Social Workers convened a disciplinary hearing on his criminal record.

But his officiating career continued, thanks both to the MIAA’s inaction and his support from leaders of an International Association of Approved Basketball Officials chapter on the North Shore, which trains and certifies referees.

Paul Halloran, a member of the chapter’s executive board, said in a recent interview that the organization was not aware of any convictions on Paul’s record other than his guilty pleas in 1986. He said the chapter has maintained Paul’s certification because it has found no evidence of any wrongdoing by him as an official in the many years since those convictions and because his colleagues consider him a productive citizen of good character.

“I understand the severity of his crime and the ramifications it may have had for the victim,’’ Halloran said. “But many years have passed, and I have come to know Phil very well. I consider him a friend and a decent guy, and nothing he has ever said or done in my company has made me hesitate about him refereeing a basketball game or being at the dinner table with my family.’’

Yet Paul’s criminal history requires him to remain a registered sex offender in Massachusetts for life.

‘Prudent thing to do’

Opponents of background checks note that crimes by school sports officials are rare. But they do occur.

In Colorado last year, the high school athletic association began requiring background screening after Stephen Amador, a basketball referee with a criminal history, was convicted of groping four girls who were competing in games he was officiating.

Lakewood Police Department

Stephen Amador.

In Oregon in 2011, a high school basketball referee was charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. Later that year, school referees in Arkansas and Kentucky were charged with drug trafficking. Those cases did not involve students, but they contributed to safety concerns among school officials.

Wisconsin and Washington began checking criminal records after basketball referees were charged with making bomb threats and drug trafficking, respectively.

The only New England state that requires background checks is Connecticut, according to a
recent study by the National Federation of State High School Associations. A spokesman for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Association, the MIAA’s counterpart there, said the screening began three years ago after the agency’s leaders saw an increasing number of states require background checks and determined “it was the prudent thing to do.’’

The MIAA, however, has yet to conclude that school sports officials have direct, unmonitored access to students — the legal threshold for requiring background checks in Massachusetts.

“As best we can tell, officials have very little contact with players, except in public when the games are being played,’’ said Paul Wetzel, spokesman for the MIAA.

Many referees share that view.

“We’re basically hit-and-run people,’’ said attorney Alan Goldberger, a longtime basketball official in New Jersey and author of “Sports Officiating: A Legal Guide.’’

“We come into a venue and often have our own dressing room,’’ Goldberger said. “Sometimes we walk onto the court or the field in the company of a police officer, and then we go back to our cars. That’s it.’’

Many Massachusetts sports officials undergo criminal background checks in their additional roles as teachers, coaches, or referees in youth leagues. Dozens also officiate more than one sport and worry they could be subject to repeated, time-consuming checks through the state’s Criminal Offender Registry Information, or CORI, system.

“Between the schools and summer leagues, some officials could be CORI’d constantly,’’ said Tom Stagliano, president of the Eastern Massachusetts Soccer Officials Association, which does not conduct criminal background checks on its members.

The largest organization of MIAA-affiliated referees that requires background checks is the Eastern Massachusetts Lacrosse Officials Association, with more than 400 members. For six years, those officials have been subject to CORI inquiries.

The screening is “part of our primary responsibility as sports officials: to provide a safe environment for players,’’ said Darrell Benson, the association’s president.

Benson said at least four prospective lacrosse officials have been discouraged from completing the training program “because of the prospect of them failing a CORI check.’’

Wetzel said the MIAA approves of certifying organizations screening officials. But the MIAA’s failure so far to undertake background checks clashes with the policy of the National Federation of State High School Associations, of which the MIAA is a member. The federation believes all governing bodies such as the MIAA should launch screening programs.

“The world is very different now,’’ said Theresia Wynns, the federation’s director of sports and officials education. “If you have pedophiles, you are providing them an opportunity to stake out or lust after individuals, so it’s in our best interest to protect our young people. We do that with background checks.’’

The MIAA classifies athletic officials as independent contractors and recommends how much schools pay them — from $50 for a junior varsity softball game to $85 for a varsity football contest. During regular-season competition, the home schools hire and pay referees for interscholastic games. For postseason tournaments, the MIAA is responsible for staffing and paying officials.

The MIAA’s formal relationship with sports officials includes the agency assessing a $6 annual fee on each of the 7,600 referees listed on its website for all different sports.

When Wetzel was asked for this story why the MIAA took no action in Paul’s case after learning he was a registered sex offender, he described it as “a judgment call.’’

Despite the MIAA’s tacit approval, Paul’s high school officiating opportunities diminished as word of his convictions spread. He officiated his last MIAA tournament game in 2009 and has since refereed only a small number of high school games.

In recent years, Paul has mostly officiated men’s games for the Eastern College Athletic Conference. However, Larry Last, who assigns officials for ECAC men’s games, said Paul, at 60, has struggled to keep pace with high-speed collegiate competition and will referee his last ECAC game next month.

Degrees of disqualification

The Massachusetts law on criminal background checks permits school districts to determine which independent contractors should be screened and which offenses should disqualify them from jobs. But one rule seems generally accepted.

“If you’re a registered sex offender, that’s going to be a problem,’’ said Jacqueline Reis, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which administers the law.

The National Alliance for Youth Sports advocates disqualifying any official who has been convicted of major crimes, including sex, gun, and drug offenses, no matter how long ago they occurred.

Sex crimes also are considered disqualifiers in the states that currently screen sports officials for criminal records. The rules otherwise vary by state on which crimes should bar a referee from working school games.

Some states disqualify anyone convicted of a felony in the past five years, while others bar anyone with felony convictions in the previous 10 years. Still others, such as Connecticut and North Carolina, have no time limits.

In those states, Paul, Drumgoole, and other ex-offenders identified in the Globe review could be barred from officiating despite the lengthy periods since their crimes — a policy that strikes some former convicts and their advocates as unfair.

Massachusetts has adopted policies aimed at making it easier for ex-offenders to become productive citizens. Under the CORI law, background checks cover only felonies committed in the past 10 years, which means Paul’s and Drumgoole’s CORI records are clean.

In Drumgoole’s case, a Berkshire County jury found him guilty in 1999 of two counts related to distributing crack cocaine in Pittsfield in 1997. He also had been convicted of intimidating witnesses and threatening to commit a crime after he allegedly clutched a handgun in a 1997 street confrontation with his wife’s ex-husband.

Drumgoole was sentenced to 43 days in jail for the intimidation incident and received a 5- to 8-year prison term for the drug convictions.

He now is a member of the Berkshire County chapter of certified basketball officials. He also is a substitute teacher in the Pittsfield public schools.

While Drumgoole might be barred in some states from refereeing school games, he said it would be unjust to terminate his officiating career. He said he has served his time and has not reoffended.

“I understand what the superintendents are saying,’’ Drumgoole said. “Criminal background checks make sense. But you don’t want to take jobs away from people who have paid their debts to society.

“I had one bad year,’’ he said. “I’ve battled long and hard to reinvent myself, so as I move forward all these years later I want to be able to walk into a job interview with the confidence I need, not sweating the fact that I have to talk about my CORI.’’

Leaders of the Berkshire County chapter of basketball officials who have certified and assigned Drumgoole to referee school games declined to comment.

Among the other certified officials in Massachusetts who could be barred from refereeing in some states because of their criminal records is Andrew Puglia, a former Somerville alderman. A disbarred lawyer, Puglia pleaded guilty in 2001 to embezzling more than $160,000 from his clients. He was ordered to serve six months in jail and repay the stolen money. He was on probation until 2012.

Now Puglia, like Paul, is a certified member of the North Shore chapter of basketball officials. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Executive board member Halloran said chapter officials were not aware of Puglia’s conviction until they were contacted by the Globe. He said Puglia has agreed to discuss the matter with them as they review his status.

Leaving trouble behind

American culture is rich with redemption stories. Good citizens in many walks of life have overcome criminal pasts. In Boston, Jahmahl Galloway’s supporters cite him as an example.

In 1992, Galloway had recently completed a promising basketball career at the former Mission High School in Roxbury, when he was charged with illegally possessing a .25-caliber handgun in a gang-menaced area of Humboldt Avenue. He was placed on two years of pretrial probation.

Before Galloway completed his probation, officers assigned to the Boston police antigang violence unit searched a car he was driving in Roxbury and discovered an unlicensed loaded handgun, ammunition, and marijuana. He then was sentenced to a year in jail.

Galloway was 19 when he was first arrested and 22 when he entered the house of corrections.

Twenty years later, he is considered one of the top high school basketball officials in Boston. His supporters say it would be a shame to strip him of his officiating job.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Jahmahl Galloway worked a game between Boston English High and Snowden High School in Boston on Dec. 12.

“A lot of us made mistakes when we were kids,’’ said Madison Park boys’ basketball coach Dennis Wilson, who has known Galloway since he was a child. “I believe everyone except murderers and rapists deserves a second chance, and certainly Jahmahl does. I have seen the changes in him.’’

Galloway, now 42, a foreman at Boston’s Fairview Cemetery, has officiated title games in the city high school playoffs as well as MIAA state tournament contests. He said he referees in part for his love of the game and his potential to help at-risk youths.

“A lot of players or their parents know about the experiences I went through and see the strides I’ve made,’’ Galloway said. “Refereeing has given me an opportunity to help some kids who are on the fence and maybe heading the wrong way. I can let them know about going the right way.’’

Galloway embodies the challenge some state athletic associations face in balancing student safety with the employment rights of school sports officials.

“We’re in the integrity business,’’ said Mark Uyl, assistant director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. “In the ideal situation, anybody with any conviction probably shouldn’t be an official. But you also have to look at the reality of life. People make mistakes, and sometimes we have to make judgment calls.’’

Background checks in Michigan have turned up convictions in about 6 percent — or more than 700 — of the 12,000 school sports officials who have been screened. Many of those offenses were minor, Uyl said, but others were serious enough to end officiating careers.

He said the risk of allowing those ex-convicts to work in the schools was too great to bear.

Bob Hohler can be reached at hohler@globe.com.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/12/21/state-school-athletics-group-doesn-conduct-criminal-background-checks-referees/sZnaggJeBiP1xzW31X4PoO/story.html

at 8:12 am

MIAA doesn’t conduct criminal background checks on referees

Posted by in School



Globe staff photo

Philip Paul is pictured as he refereed a basketball game between Holyoke CC and Roxbury CC at the Reggie Lewis Center.

Late on a stormy New Hampshire night in the summer of 1986, a convicted sex offender named Philip Paul was working as an athletic trainer at Keene State College when he sexually molested a summer camper, a 15-year-old boy.

Paul, who was 32, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assault and was sent to the county jail. Four days later, he sexually assaulted another inmate, a judge ruled, and he was ordered to serve the balance of his 2½- to 7-year sentence at the New Hampshire state prison.

Continue reading below

Today, Paul is a registered sex offender, living in Framingham and classified as Level 2 — a moderate risk to reoffend. He is also a regular in referee pinstripes on basketball courts around the region, one of a number of ex-convicts who are listed by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association as qualified basketball officials, eligible to judge right from wrong for student-athletes in contests across the Commonwealth.

A limited review of state court records by the Globe found at least seven other referees who have been convicted of serious crimes — offenses ranging from distributing cocaine in a school zone and illegally possessing handguns on the streets of Boston to larceny, embezzlement, and gambling.

But most of their crimes have been a secret to the public because almost no one responsible for ensuring the safety of the state’s student-athletes, including the MIAA, is checking the criminal records of the 7,600 referees who are eligible to officiate in Massachusetts schools.

The MIAA lags behind a national movement of state high school athletic associations launching screening programs for officials. Consequently, no one knows how many current or former offenders are calling fouls on the state’s student-athletes.

“It’s a head-scratcher,” said Steve Ray, a longtime high school basketball coach and referee in Pittsfield, where Darryell Drumgoole was convicted in 1999 of distributing cocaine in a school zone.

Drumgoole is now a certified basketball official who referees school games in Berkshire County.

“You see guys with drug convictions and you wonder how they got through the system,’’ Ray said.

Like other ex-offenders identified by the Globe, Drumgoole said he has turned around his life in the many years since his conviction. Drumgoole said he has paid his debt to society in prison time and should be allowed to officiate. Paul declined to comment.

At least 20 states require criminal background checks for athletic officials in schools, and Tom Lopes, executive director of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, said he expects every state one day to screen referees for criminal records.

But there has been little action in Massachusetts. The vast majority of sports associations that train and certify referees listed by the MIAA do not conduct criminal background checks. Nor do school districts.

State law requires school employees and volunteers who may have unmonitored, direct access to students to be screened for a criminal record. Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, said the superintendents believe the referee checks are necessary and have asked the MIAA to conduct them, to no avail.

On Friday, the MIAA’s associate executive director, Richard Pearson, said his organization is taking the matter “very seriously.’’ He said the MIAA’s board of directors is scheduled to receive a final report on the issue in February and will decide no sooner than next fall whether to begin screening referees for criminal records.

Scott said school superintendents consider the issue urgent enough that they may ask the Massachusetts Legislature to require the MIAA to administer the checks.

“We need to make sure we are doing our due diligence,’’ he said.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Thomas A. Scott

The Globe screened the state’s 2,500 certified basketball officials by reviewing the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry and criminal dockets at the state’s 20 superior courts. Basketball officials represent the largest group of certified referees who work inside school buildings.

The review did not cover offenses tried in the state’s 70 district courts because no central database is publicly available for records in those jurisdictions. District courts handle most of the state’s criminal cases: felonies punishable by up to five years in jail, all misdemeanors, as well as violations of city and town laws. Nor did the Globe review cover out-of-state jurisdictions and federal courts.

Still, even the limited sampling yielded at least eight cases that could disqualify the former offenders from officiating in some states that conduct background screening. Some of their offenses occurred long ago, and several of the referees are officiating college or recreational games rather than school contests.

In Paul’s case, the MIAA has taken no action despite knowing about the worst of his criminal record for nearly a decade. He had been officiating school games for nearly 10 years when he was charged in Peabody in 2003 with failing to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts. The MIAA was made aware of his Peabody arrest and New Hampshire convictions by newspaper reports on the North Shore in 2005.

Those reports did not cite Paul’s arrest at Moakley Park in South Boston in 2002 on a charge of indecent exposure. Police officers allegedly witnessed him engaging in sex there with an adult male. The charge was dismissed on the condition that Paul pay $300 in court costs.

Nor did those news reports cite Paul’s conviction for sexually assaulting a minor in Fairfield, Conn., in 1977, a year after he graduated from the University of Bridgeport. He received a 30-day suspended sentence in that case and a one-year conditional discharge.

The news coverage effectively cost Paul his Massachusetts license as an independent clinical social worker. State records show he received the license in 1996 and lost it in 2005 after the Board of Registration of Social Workers convened a disciplinary hearing on his criminal record.

But his officiating career continued, thanks both to the MIAA’s inaction and his support from leaders of an International Association of Approved Basketball Officials chapter on the North Shore, which trains and certifies referees.

Paul Halloran, a member of the chapter’s executive board, said in a recent interview that the organization was not aware of any convictions on Paul’s record other than his guilty pleas in 1986. He said the chapter has maintained Paul’s certification because it has found no evidence of any wrongdoing by him as an official in the many years since those convictions and because his colleagues consider him a productive citizen of good character.

“I understand the severity of his crime and the ramifications it may have had for the victim,’’ Halloran said. “But many years have passed, and I have come to know Phil very well. I consider him a friend and a decent guy, and nothing he has ever said or done in my company has made me hesitate about him refereeing a basketball game or being at the dinner table with my family.’’

Yet Paul’s criminal history requires him to remain a registered sex offender in Massachusetts for life.

‘Prudent thing to do’

Opponents of background checks note that crimes by school sports officials are rare. But they do occur.

In Colorado last year, the high school athletic association began requiring background screening after Stephen Amador, a basketball referee with a criminal history, was convicted of groping four girls who were competing in games he was officiating.

Lakewood Police Department

Stephen Amador.

In Oregon in 2011, a high school basketball referee was charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. Later that year, school referees in Arkansas and Kentucky were charged with drug trafficking. Those cases did not involve students, but they contributed to safety concerns among school officials.

Wisconsin and Washington began checking criminal records after basketball referees were charged with making bomb threats and drug trafficking, respectively.

The only New England state that requires background checks is Connecticut, according to a
recent study by the National Federation of State High School Associations. A spokesman for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Association, the MIAA’s counterpart there, said the screening began three years ago after the agency’s leaders saw an increasing number of states require background checks and determined “it was the prudent thing to do.’’

The MIAA, however, has yet to conclude that school sports officials have direct, unmonitored access to students — the legal threshold for requiring background checks in Massachusetts.

“As best we can tell, officials have very little contact with players, except in public when the games are being played,’’ said Paul Wetzel, spokesman for the MIAA.

Many referees share that view.

“We’re basically hit-and-run people,’’ said attorney Alan Goldberger, a longtime basketball official in New Jersey and author of “Sports Officiating: A Legal Guide.’’

“We come into a venue and often have our own dressing room,’’ Goldberger said. “Sometimes we walk onto the court or the field in the company of a police officer, and then we go back to our cars. That’s it.’’

Many Massachusetts sports officials undergo criminal background checks in their additional roles as teachers, coaches, or referees in youth leagues. Dozens also officiate more than one sport and worry they could be subject to repeated, time-consuming checks through the state’s Criminal Offender Registry Information, or CORI, system.

“Between the schools and summer leagues, some officials could be CORI’d constantly,’’ said Tom Stagliano, president of the Eastern Massachusetts Soccer Officials Association, which does not conduct criminal background checks on its members.

The largest organization of MIAA-affiliated referees that requires background checks is the Eastern Massachusetts Lacrosse Officials Association, with more than 400 members. For six years, those officials have been subject to CORI inquiries.

The screening is “part of our primary responsibility as sports officials: to provide a safe environment for players,’’ said Darrell Benson, the association’s president.

Benson said at least four prospective lacrosse officials have been discouraged from completing the training program “because of the prospect of them failing a CORI check.’’

Wetzel said the MIAA approves of certifying organizations screening officials. But the MIAA’s failure so far to undertake background checks clashes with the policy of the National Federation of State High School Associations, of which the MIAA is a member. The federation believes all governing bodies such as the MIAA should launch screening programs.

“The world is very different now,’’ said Theresia Wynns, the federation’s director of sports and officials education. “If you have pedophiles, you are providing them an opportunity to stake out or lust after individuals, so it’s in our best interest to protect our young people. We do that with background checks.’’

The MIAA classifies athletic officials as independent contractors and recommends how much schools pay them — from $50 for a junior varsity softball game to $85 for a varsity football contest. During regular-season competition, the home schools hire and pay referees for interscholastic games. For postseason tournaments, the MIAA is responsible for staffing and paying officials.

The MIAA’s formal relationship with sports officials includes the agency assessing a $6 annual fee on each of the 7,600 referees listed on its website for all different sports.

When Wetzel was asked for this story why the MIAA took no action in Paul’s case after learning he was a registered sex offender, he described it as “a judgment call.’’

Despite the MIAA’s tacit approval, Paul’s high school officiating opportunities diminished as word of his convictions spread. He officiated his last MIAA tournament game in 2009 and has since refereed only a small number of high school games.

In recent years, Paul has mostly officiated men’s games for the Eastern College Athletic Conference. However, Larry Last, who assigns officials for ECAC men’s games, said Paul, at 60, has struggled to keep pace with high-speed collegiate competition and will referee his last ECAC game next month.

Degrees of disqualification

The Massachusetts law on criminal background checks permits school districts to determine which independent contractors should be screened and which offenses should disqualify them from jobs. But one rule seems generally accepted.

“If you’re a registered sex offender, that’s going to be a problem,’’ said Jacqueline Reis, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which administers the law.

The National Alliance for Youth Sports advocates disqualifying any official who has been convicted of major crimes, including sex, gun, and drug offenses, no matter how long ago they occurred.

Sex crimes also are considered disqualifiers in the states that currently screen sports officials for criminal records. The rules otherwise vary by state on which crimes should bar a referee from working school games.

Some states disqualify anyone convicted of a felony in the past five years, while others bar anyone with felony convictions in the previous 10 years. Still others, such as Connecticut and North Carolina, have no time limits.

In those states, Paul, Drumgoole, and other ex-offenders identified in the Globe review could be barred from officiating despite the lengthy periods since their crimes — a policy that strikes some former convicts and their advocates as unfair.

Massachusetts has adopted policies aimed at making it easier for ex-offenders to become productive citizens. Under the CORI law, background checks cover only felonies committed in the past 10 years, which means Paul’s and Drumgoole’s CORI records are clean.

In Drumgoole’s case, a Berkshire County jury found him guilty in 1999 of two counts related to distributing crack cocaine in Pittsfield in 1997. He also had been convicted of intimidating witnesses and threatening to commit a crime after he allegedly clutched a handgun in a 1997 street confrontation with his wife’s ex-husband.

Drumgoole was sentenced to 43 days in jail for the intimidation incident and received a 5- to 8-year prison term for the drug convictions.

He now is a member of the Berkshire County chapter of certified basketball officials. He also is a substitute teacher in the Pittsfield public schools.

While Drumgoole might be barred in some states from refereeing school games, he said it would be unjust to terminate his officiating career. He said he has served his time and has not reoffended.

“I understand what the superintendents are saying,’’ Drumgoole said. “Criminal background checks make sense. But you don’t want to take jobs away from people who have paid their debts to society.

“I had one bad year,’’ he said. “I’ve battled long and hard to reinvent myself, so as I move forward all these years later I want to be able to walk into a job interview with the confidence I need, not sweating the fact that I have to talk about my CORI.’’

Leaders of the Berkshire County chapter of basketball officials who have certified and assigned Drumgoole to referee school games declined to comment.

Among the other certified officials in Massachusetts who could be barred from refereeing in some states because of their criminal records is Andrew Puglia, a former Somerville alderman. A disbarred lawyer, Puglia pleaded guilty in 2001 to embezzling more than $160,000 from his clients. He was ordered to serve six months in jail and repay the stolen money. He was on probation until 2012.

Now Puglia, like Paul, is a certified member of the North Shore chapter of basketball officials. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Executive board member Halloran said chapter officials were not aware of Puglia’s conviction until they were contacted by the Globe. He said Puglia has agreed to discuss the matter with them as they review his status.

Leaving trouble behind

American culture is rich with redemption stories. Good citizens in many walks of life have overcome criminal pasts. In Boston, Jahmahl Galloway’s supporters cite him as an example.

In 1992, Galloway had recently completed a promising basketball career at the former Mission High School in Roxbury, when he was charged with illegally possessing a .25-caliber handgun in a gang-menaced area of Humboldt Avenue. He was placed on two years of pretrial probation.

Before Galloway completed his probation, officers assigned to the Boston police antigang violence unit searched a car he was driving in Roxbury and discovered an unlicensed loaded handgun, ammunition, and marijuana. He then was sentenced to a year in jail.

Galloway was 19 when he was first arrested and 22 when he entered the house of corrections.

Twenty years later, he is considered one of the top high school basketball officials in Boston. His supporters say it would be a shame to strip him of his officiating job.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Jahmahl Galloway worked a game between Boston English High and Snowden High School in Boston on Dec. 12.

“A lot of us made mistakes when we were kids,’’ said Madison Park boys’ basketball coach Dennis Wilson, who has known Galloway since he was a child. “I believe everyone except murderers and rapists deserves a second chance, and certainly Jahmahl does. I have seen the changes in him.’’

Galloway, now 42, a foreman at Boston’s Fairview Cemetery, has officiated title games in the city high school playoffs as well as MIAA state tournament contests. He said he referees in part for his love of the game and his potential to help at-risk youths.

“A lot of players or their parents know about the experiences I went through and see the strides I’ve made,’’ Galloway said. “Refereeing has given me an opportunity to help some kids who are on the fence and maybe heading the wrong way. I can let them know about going the right way.’’

Galloway embodies the challenge some state athletic associations face in balancing student safety with the employment rights of school sports officials.

“We’re in the integrity business,’’ said Mark Uyl, assistant director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. “In the ideal situation, anybody with any conviction probably shouldn’t be an official. But you also have to look at the reality of life. People make mistakes, and sometimes we have to make judgment calls.’’

Background checks in Michigan have turned up convictions in about 6 percent — or more than 700 — of the 12,000 school sports officials who have been screened. Many of those offenses were minor, Uyl said, but others were serious enough to end officiating careers.

He said the risk of allowing those ex-convicts to work in the schools was too great to bear.

Bob Hohler can be reached at hohler@globe.com.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/12/21/state-school-athletics-group-doesn-conduct-criminal-background-checks-referees/sZnaggJeBiP1xzW31X4PoO/story.html

at 8:12 am

MIAA doesn’t conduct criminal background checks on referees

Posted by in School



Globe staff photo

Philip Paul is pictured as he refereed a basketball game between Holyoke CC and Roxbury CC at the Reggie Lewis Center.

Late on a stormy New Hampshire night in the summer of 1986, a convicted sex offender named Philip Paul was working as an athletic trainer at Keene State College when he sexually molested a summer camper, a 15-year-old boy.

Paul, who was 32, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assault and was sent to the county jail. Four days later, he sexually assaulted another inmate, a judge ruled, and he was ordered to serve the balance of his 2½- to 7-year sentence at the New Hampshire state prison.

Continue reading below

Today, Paul is a registered sex offender, living in Framingham and classified as Level 2 — a moderate risk to reoffend. He is also a regular in referee pinstripes on basketball courts around the region, one of a number of ex-convicts who are listed by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association as qualified basketball officials, eligible to judge right from wrong for student-athletes in contests across the Commonwealth.

A limited review of state court records by the Globe found at least seven other referees who have been convicted of serious crimes — offenses ranging from distributing cocaine in a school zone and illegally possessing handguns on the streets of Boston to larceny, embezzlement, and gambling.

But most of their crimes have been a secret to the public because almost no one responsible for ensuring the safety of the state’s student-athletes, including the MIAA, is checking the criminal records of the 7,600 referees who are eligible to officiate in Massachusetts schools.

The MIAA lags behind a national movement of state high school athletic associations launching screening programs for officials. Consequently, no one knows how many current or former offenders are calling fouls on the state’s student-athletes.

“It’s a head-scratcher,” said Steve Ray, a longtime high school basketball coach and referee in Pittsfield, where Darryell Drumgoole was convicted in 1999 of distributing cocaine in a school zone.

Drumgoole is now a certified basketball official who referees school games in Berkshire County.

“You see guys with drug convictions and you wonder how they got through the system,’’ Ray said.

Like other ex-offenders identified by the Globe, Drumgoole said he has turned around his life in the many years since his conviction. Drumgoole said he has paid his debt to society in prison time and should be allowed to officiate. Paul declined to comment.

At least 20 states require criminal background checks for athletic officials in schools, and Tom Lopes, executive director of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, said he expects every state one day to screen referees for criminal records.

But there has been little action in Massachusetts. The vast majority of sports associations that train and certify referees listed by the MIAA do not conduct criminal background checks. Nor do school districts.

State law requires school employees and volunteers who may have unmonitored, direct access to students to be screened for a criminal record. Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, said the superintendents believe the referee checks are necessary and have asked the MIAA to conduct them, to no avail.

On Friday, the MIAA’s associate executive director, Richard Pearson, said his organization is taking the matter “very seriously.’’ He said the MIAA’s board of directors is scheduled to receive a final report on the issue in February and will decide no sooner than next fall whether to begin screening referees for criminal records.

Scott said school superintendents consider the issue urgent enough that they may ask the Massachusetts Legislature to require the MIAA to administer the checks.

“We need to make sure we are doing our due diligence,’’ he said.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Thomas A. Scott

The Globe screened the state’s 2,500 certified basketball officials by reviewing the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry and criminal dockets at the state’s 20 superior courts. Basketball officials represent the largest group of certified referees who work inside school buildings.

The review did not cover offenses tried in the state’s 70 district courts because no central database is publicly available for records in those jurisdictions. District courts handle most of the state’s criminal cases: felonies punishable by up to five years in jail, all misdemeanors, as well as violations of city and town laws. Nor did the Globe review cover out-of-state jurisdictions and federal courts.

Still, even the limited sampling yielded at least eight cases that could disqualify the former offenders from officiating in some states that conduct background screening. Some of their offenses occurred long ago, and several of the referees are officiating college or recreational games rather than school contests.

In Paul’s case, the MIAA has taken no action despite knowing about the worst of his criminal record for nearly a decade. He had been officiating school games for nearly 10 years when he was charged in Peabody in 2003 with failing to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts. The MIAA was made aware of his Peabody arrest and New Hampshire convictions by newspaper reports on the North Shore in 2005.

Those reports did not cite Paul’s arrest at Moakley Park in South Boston in 2002 on a charge of indecent exposure. Police officers allegedly witnessed him engaging in sex there with an adult male. The charge was dismissed on the condition that Paul pay $300 in court costs.

Nor did those news reports cite Paul’s conviction for sexually assaulting a minor in Fairfield, Conn., in 1977, a year after he graduated from the University of Bridgeport. He received a 30-day suspended sentence in that case and a one-year conditional discharge.

The news coverage effectively cost Paul his Massachusetts license as an independent clinical social worker. State records show he received the license in 1996 and lost it in 2005 after the Board of Registration of Social Workers convened a disciplinary hearing on his criminal record.

But his officiating career continued, thanks both to the MIAA’s inaction and his support from leaders of an International Association of Approved Basketball Officials chapter on the North Shore, which trains and certifies referees.

Paul Halloran, a member of the chapter’s executive board, said in a recent interview that the organization was not aware of any convictions on Paul’s record other than his guilty pleas in 1986. He said the chapter has maintained Paul’s certification because it has found no evidence of any wrongdoing by him as an official in the many years since those convictions and because his colleagues consider him a productive citizen of good character.

“I understand the severity of his crime and the ramifications it may have had for the victim,’’ Halloran said. “But many years have passed, and I have come to know Phil very well. I consider him a friend and a decent guy, and nothing he has ever said or done in my company has made me hesitate about him refereeing a basketball game or being at the dinner table with my family.’’

Yet Paul’s criminal history requires him to remain a registered sex offender in Massachusetts for life.

‘Prudent thing to do’

Opponents of background checks note that crimes by school sports officials are rare. But they do occur.

In Colorado last year, the high school athletic association began requiring background screening after Stephen Amador, a basketball referee with a criminal history, was convicted of groping four girls who were competing in games he was officiating.

Lakewood Police Department

Stephen Amador.

In Oregon in 2011, a high school basketball referee was charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. Later that year, school referees in Arkansas and Kentucky were charged with drug trafficking. Those cases did not involve students, but they contributed to safety concerns among school officials.

Wisconsin and Washington began checking criminal records after basketball referees were charged with making bomb threats and drug trafficking, respectively.

The only New England state that requires background checks is Connecticut, according to a
recent study by the National Federation of State High School Associations. A spokesman for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Association, the MIAA’s counterpart there, said the screening began three years ago after the agency’s leaders saw an increasing number of states require background checks and determined “it was the prudent thing to do.’’

The MIAA, however, has yet to conclude that school sports officials have direct, unmonitored access to students — the legal threshold for requiring background checks in Massachusetts.

“As best we can tell, officials have very little contact with players, except in public when the games are being played,’’ said Paul Wetzel, spokesman for the MIAA.

Many referees share that view.

“We’re basically hit-and-run people,’’ said attorney Alan Goldberger, a longtime basketball official in New Jersey and author of “Sports Officiating: A Legal Guide.’’

“We come into a venue and often have our own dressing room,’’ Goldberger said. “Sometimes we walk onto the court or the field in the company of a police officer, and then we go back to our cars. That’s it.’’

Many Massachusetts sports officials undergo criminal background checks in their additional roles as teachers, coaches, or referees in youth leagues. Dozens also officiate more than one sport and worry they could be subject to repeated, time-consuming checks through the state’s Criminal Offender Registry Information, or CORI, system.

“Between the schools and summer leagues, some officials could be CORI’d constantly,’’ said Tom Stagliano, president of the Eastern Massachusetts Soccer Officials Association, which does not conduct criminal background checks on its members.

The largest organization of MIAA-affiliated referees that requires background checks is the Eastern Massachusetts Lacrosse Officials Association, with more than 400 members. For six years, those officials have been subject to CORI inquiries.

The screening is “part of our primary responsibility as sports officials: to provide a safe environment for players,’’ said Darrell Benson, the association’s president.

Benson said at least four prospective lacrosse officials have been discouraged from completing the training program “because of the prospect of them failing a CORI check.’’

Wetzel said the MIAA approves of certifying organizations screening officials. But the MIAA’s failure so far to undertake background checks clashes with the policy of the National Federation of State High School Associations, of which the MIAA is a member. The federation believes all governing bodies such as the MIAA should launch screening programs.

“The world is very different now,’’ said Theresia Wynns, the federation’s director of sports and officials education. “If you have pedophiles, you are providing them an opportunity to stake out or lust after individuals, so it’s in our best interest to protect our young people. We do that with background checks.’’

The MIAA classifies athletic officials as independent contractors and recommends how much schools pay them — from $50 for a junior varsity softball game to $85 for a varsity football contest. During regular-season competition, the home schools hire and pay referees for interscholastic games. For postseason tournaments, the MIAA is responsible for staffing and paying officials.

The MIAA’s formal relationship with sports officials includes the agency assessing a $6 annual fee on each of the 7,600 referees listed on its website for all different sports.

When Wetzel was asked for this story why the MIAA took no action in Paul’s case after learning he was a registered sex offender, he described it as “a judgment call.’’

Despite the MIAA’s tacit approval, Paul’s high school officiating opportunities diminished as word of his convictions spread. He officiated his last MIAA tournament game in 2009 and has since refereed only a small number of high school games.

In recent years, Paul has mostly officiated men’s games for the Eastern College Athletic Conference. However, Larry Last, who assigns officials for ECAC men’s games, said Paul, at 60, has struggled to keep pace with high-speed collegiate competition and will referee his last ECAC game next month.

Degrees of disqualification

The Massachusetts law on criminal background checks permits school districts to determine which independent contractors should be screened and which offenses should disqualify them from jobs. But one rule seems generally accepted.

“If you’re a registered sex offender, that’s going to be a problem,’’ said Jacqueline Reis, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which administers the law.

The National Alliance for Youth Sports advocates disqualifying any official who has been convicted of major crimes, including sex, gun, and drug offenses, no matter how long ago they occurred.

Sex crimes also are considered disqualifiers in the states that currently screen sports officials for criminal records. The rules otherwise vary by state on which crimes should bar a referee from working school games.

Some states disqualify anyone convicted of a felony in the past five years, while others bar anyone with felony convictions in the previous 10 years. Still others, such as Connecticut and North Carolina, have no time limits.

In those states, Paul, Drumgoole, and other ex-offenders identified in the Globe review could be barred from officiating despite the lengthy periods since their crimes — a policy that strikes some former convicts and their advocates as unfair.

Massachusetts has adopted policies aimed at making it easier for ex-offenders to become productive citizens. Under the CORI law, background checks cover only felonies committed in the past 10 years, which means Paul’s and Drumgoole’s CORI records are clean.

In Drumgoole’s case, a Berkshire County jury found him guilty in 1999 of two counts related to distributing crack cocaine in Pittsfield in 1997. He also had been convicted of intimidating witnesses and threatening to commit a crime after he allegedly clutched a handgun in a 1997 street confrontation with his wife’s ex-husband.

Drumgoole was sentenced to 43 days in jail for the intimidation incident and received a 5- to 8-year prison term for the drug convictions.

He now is a member of the Berkshire County chapter of certified basketball officials. He also is a substitute teacher in the Pittsfield public schools.

While Drumgoole might be barred in some states from refereeing school games, he said it would be unjust to terminate his officiating career. He said he has served his time and has not reoffended.

“I understand what the superintendents are saying,’’ Drumgoole said. “Criminal background checks make sense. But you don’t want to take jobs away from people who have paid their debts to society.

“I had one bad year,’’ he said. “I’ve battled long and hard to reinvent myself, so as I move forward all these years later I want to be able to walk into a job interview with the confidence I need, not sweating the fact that I have to talk about my CORI.’’

Leaders of the Berkshire County chapter of basketball officials who have certified and assigned Drumgoole to referee school games declined to comment.

Among the other certified officials in Massachusetts who could be barred from refereeing in some states because of their criminal records is Andrew Puglia, a former Somerville alderman. A disbarred lawyer, Puglia pleaded guilty in 2001 to embezzling more than $160,000 from his clients. He was ordered to serve six months in jail and repay the stolen money. He was on probation until 2012.

Now Puglia, like Paul, is a certified member of the North Shore chapter of basketball officials. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Executive board member Halloran said chapter officials were not aware of Puglia’s conviction until they were contacted by the Globe. He said Puglia has agreed to discuss the matter with them as they review his status.

Leaving trouble behind

American culture is rich with redemption stories. Good citizens in many walks of life have overcome criminal pasts. In Boston, Jahmahl Galloway’s supporters cite him as an example.

In 1992, Galloway had recently completed a promising basketball career at the former Mission High School in Roxbury, when he was charged with illegally possessing a .25-caliber handgun in a gang-menaced area of Humboldt Avenue. He was placed on two years of pretrial probation.

Before Galloway completed his probation, officers assigned to the Boston police antigang violence unit searched a car he was driving in Roxbury and discovered an unlicensed loaded handgun, ammunition, and marijuana. He then was sentenced to a year in jail.

Galloway was 19 when he was first arrested and 22 when he entered the house of corrections.

Twenty years later, he is considered one of the top high school basketball officials in Boston. His supporters say it would be a shame to strip him of his officiating job.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Jahmahl Galloway worked a game between Boston English High and Snowden High School in Boston on Dec. 12.

“A lot of us made mistakes when we were kids,’’ said Madison Park boys’ basketball coach Dennis Wilson, who has known Galloway since he was a child. “I believe everyone except murderers and rapists deserves a second chance, and certainly Jahmahl does. I have seen the changes in him.’’

Galloway, now 42, a foreman at Boston’s Fairview Cemetery, has officiated title games in the city high school playoffs as well as MIAA state tournament contests. He said he referees in part for his love of the game and his potential to help at-risk youths.

“A lot of players or their parents know about the experiences I went through and see the strides I’ve made,’’ Galloway said. “Refereeing has given me an opportunity to help some kids who are on the fence and maybe heading the wrong way. I can let them know about going the right way.’’

Galloway embodies the challenge some state athletic associations face in balancing student safety with the employment rights of school sports officials.

“We’re in the integrity business,’’ said Mark Uyl, assistant director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. “In the ideal situation, anybody with any conviction probably shouldn’t be an official. But you also have to look at the reality of life. People make mistakes, and sometimes we have to make judgment calls.’’

Background checks in Michigan have turned up convictions in about 6 percent — or more than 700 — of the 12,000 school sports officials who have been screened. Many of those offenses were minor, Uyl said, but others were serious enough to end officiating careers.

He said the risk of allowing those ex-convicts to work in the schools was too great to bear.

Bob Hohler can be reached at hohler@globe.com.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/12/21/state-school-athletics-group-doesn-conduct-criminal-background-checks-referees/sZnaggJeBiP1xzW31X4PoO/story.html

at 8:12 am

MIAA doesn’t conduct criminal background checks on referees

Posted by in School



Globe staff photo

Philip Paul is pictured as he refereed a basketball game between Holyoke CC and Roxbury CC at the Reggie Lewis Center.

Late on a stormy New Hampshire night in the summer of 1986, a convicted sex offender named Philip Paul was working as an athletic trainer at Keene State College when he sexually molested a summer camper, a 15-year-old boy.

Paul, who was 32, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assault and was sent to the county jail. Four days later, he sexually assaulted another inmate, a judge ruled, and he was ordered to serve the balance of his 2½- to 7-year sentence at the New Hampshire state prison.

Continue reading below

Today, Paul is a registered sex offender, living in Framingham and classified as Level 2 — a moderate risk to reoffend. He is also a regular in referee pinstripes on basketball courts around the region, one of a number of ex-convicts who are listed by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association as qualified basketball officials, eligible to judge right from wrong for student-athletes in contests across the Commonwealth.

A limited review of state court records by the Globe found at least seven other referees who have been convicted of serious crimes — offenses ranging from distributing cocaine in a school zone and illegally possessing handguns on the streets of Boston to larceny, embezzlement, and gambling.

But most of their crimes have been a secret to the public because almost no one responsible for ensuring the safety of the state’s student-athletes, including the MIAA, is checking the criminal records of the 7,600 referees who are eligible to officiate in Massachusetts schools.

The MIAA lags behind a national movement of state high school athletic associations launching screening programs for officials. Consequently, no one knows how many current or former offenders are calling fouls on the state’s student-athletes.

“It’s a head-scratcher,” said Steve Ray, a longtime high school basketball coach and referee in Pittsfield, where Darryell Drumgoole was convicted in 1999 of distributing cocaine in a school zone.

Drumgoole is now a certified basketball official who referees school games in Berkshire County.

“You see guys with drug convictions and you wonder how they got through the system,’’ Ray said.

Like other ex-offenders identified by the Globe, Drumgoole said he has turned around his life in the many years since his conviction. Drumgoole said he has paid his debt to society in prison time and should be allowed to officiate. Paul declined to comment.

At least 20 states require criminal background checks for athletic officials in schools, and Tom Lopes, executive director of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, said he expects every state one day to screen referees for criminal records.

But there has been little action in Massachusetts. The vast majority of sports associations that train and certify referees listed by the MIAA do not conduct criminal background checks. Nor do school districts.

State law requires school employees and volunteers who may have unmonitored, direct access to students to be screened for a criminal record. Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, said the superintendents believe the referee checks are necessary and have asked the MIAA to conduct them, to no avail.

On Friday, the MIAA’s associate executive director, Richard Pearson, said his organization is taking the matter “very seriously.’’ He said the MIAA’s board of directors is scheduled to receive a final report on the issue in February and will decide no sooner than next fall whether to begin screening referees for criminal records.

Scott said school superintendents consider the issue urgent enough that they may ask the Massachusetts Legislature to require the MIAA to administer the checks.

“We need to make sure we are doing our due diligence,’’ he said.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Thomas A. Scott

The Globe screened the state’s 2,500 certified basketball officials by reviewing the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry and criminal dockets at the state’s 20 superior courts. Basketball officials represent the largest group of certified referees who work inside school buildings.

The review did not cover offenses tried in the state’s 70 district courts because no central database is publicly available for records in those jurisdictions. District courts handle most of the state’s criminal cases: felonies punishable by up to five years in jail, all misdemeanors, as well as violations of city and town laws. Nor did the Globe review cover out-of-state jurisdictions and federal courts.

Still, even the limited sampling yielded at least eight cases that could disqualify the former offenders from officiating in some states that conduct background screening. Some of their offenses occurred long ago, and several of the referees are officiating college or recreational games rather than school contests.

In Paul’s case, the MIAA has taken no action despite knowing about the worst of his criminal record for nearly a decade. He had been officiating school games for nearly 10 years when he was charged in Peabody in 2003 with failing to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts. The MIAA was made aware of his Peabody arrest and New Hampshire convictions by newspaper reports on the North Shore in 2005.

Those reports did not cite Paul’s arrest at Moakley Park in South Boston in 2002 on a charge of indecent exposure. Police officers allegedly witnessed him engaging in sex there with an adult male. The charge was dismissed on the condition that Paul pay $300 in court costs.

Nor did those news reports cite Paul’s conviction for sexually assaulting a minor in Fairfield, Conn., in 1977, a year after he graduated from the University of Bridgeport. He received a 30-day suspended sentence in that case and a one-year conditional discharge.

The news coverage effectively cost Paul his Massachusetts license as an independent clinical social worker. State records show he received the license in 1996 and lost it in 2005 after the Board of Registration of Social Workers convened a disciplinary hearing on his criminal record.

But his officiating career continued, thanks both to the MIAA’s inaction and his support from leaders of an International Association of Approved Basketball Officials chapter on the North Shore, which trains and certifies referees.

Paul Halloran, a member of the chapter’s executive board, said in a recent interview that the organization was not aware of any convictions on Paul’s record other than his guilty pleas in 1986. He said the chapter has maintained Paul’s certification because it has found no evidence of any wrongdoing by him as an official in the many years since those convictions and because his colleagues consider him a productive citizen of good character.

“I understand the severity of his crime and the ramifications it may have had for the victim,’’ Halloran said. “But many years have passed, and I have come to know Phil very well. I consider him a friend and a decent guy, and nothing he has ever said or done in my company has made me hesitate about him refereeing a basketball game or being at the dinner table with my family.’’

Yet Paul’s criminal history requires him to remain a registered sex offender in Massachusetts for life.

‘Prudent thing to do’

Opponents of background checks note that crimes by school sports officials are rare. But they do occur.

In Colorado last year, the high school athletic association began requiring background screening after Stephen Amador, a basketball referee with a criminal history, was convicted of groping four girls who were competing in games he was officiating.

Lakewood Police Department

Stephen Amador.

In Oregon in 2011, a high school basketball referee was charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. Later that year, school referees in Arkansas and Kentucky were charged with drug trafficking. Those cases did not involve students, but they contributed to safety concerns among school officials.

Wisconsin and Washington began checking criminal records after basketball referees were charged with making bomb threats and drug trafficking, respectively.

The only New England state that requires background checks is Connecticut, according to a
recent study by the National Federation of State High School Associations. A spokesman for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Association, the MIAA’s counterpart there, said the screening began three years ago after the agency’s leaders saw an increasing number of states require background checks and determined “it was the prudent thing to do.’’

The MIAA, however, has yet to conclude that school sports officials have direct, unmonitored access to students — the legal threshold for requiring background checks in Massachusetts.

“As best we can tell, officials have very little contact with players, except in public when the games are being played,’’ said Paul Wetzel, spokesman for the MIAA.

Many referees share that view.

“We’re basically hit-and-run people,’’ said attorney Alan Goldberger, a longtime basketball official in New Jersey and author of “Sports Officiating: A Legal Guide.’’

“We come into a venue and often have our own dressing room,’’ Goldberger said. “Sometimes we walk onto the court or the field in the company of a police officer, and then we go back to our cars. That’s it.’’

Many Massachusetts sports officials undergo criminal background checks in their additional roles as teachers, coaches, or referees in youth leagues. Dozens also officiate more than one sport and worry they could be subject to repeated, time-consuming checks through the state’s Criminal Offender Registry Information, or CORI, system.

“Between the schools and summer leagues, some officials could be CORI’d constantly,’’ said Tom Stagliano, president of the Eastern Massachusetts Soccer Officials Association, which does not conduct criminal background checks on its members.

The largest organization of MIAA-affiliated referees that requires background checks is the Eastern Massachusetts Lacrosse Officials Association, with more than 400 members. For six years, those officials have been subject to CORI inquiries.

The screening is “part of our primary responsibility as sports officials: to provide a safe environment for players,’’ said Darrell Benson, the association’s president.

Benson said at least four prospective lacrosse officials have been discouraged from completing the training program “because of the prospect of them failing a CORI check.’’

Wetzel said the MIAA approves of certifying organizations screening officials. But the MIAA’s failure so far to undertake background checks clashes with the policy of the National Federation of State High School Associations, of which the MIAA is a member. The federation believes all governing bodies such as the MIAA should launch screening programs.

“The world is very different now,’’ said Theresia Wynns, the federation’s director of sports and officials education. “If you have pedophiles, you are providing them an opportunity to stake out or lust after individuals, so it’s in our best interest to protect our young people. We do that with background checks.’’

The MIAA classifies athletic officials as independent contractors and recommends how much schools pay them — from $50 for a junior varsity softball game to $85 for a varsity football contest. During regular-season competition, the home schools hire and pay referees for interscholastic games. For postseason tournaments, the MIAA is responsible for staffing and paying officials.

The MIAA’s formal relationship with sports officials includes the agency assessing a $6 annual fee on each of the 7,600 referees listed on its website for all different sports.

When Wetzel was asked for this story why the MIAA took no action in Paul’s case after learning he was a registered sex offender, he described it as “a judgment call.’’

Despite the MIAA’s tacit approval, Paul’s high school officiating opportunities diminished as word of his convictions spread. He officiated his last MIAA tournament game in 2009 and has since refereed only a small number of high school games.

In recent years, Paul has mostly officiated men’s games for the Eastern College Athletic Conference. However, Larry Last, who assigns officials for ECAC men’s games, said Paul, at 60, has struggled to keep pace with high-speed collegiate competition and will referee his last ECAC game next month.

Degrees of disqualification

The Massachusetts law on criminal background checks permits school districts to determine which independent contractors should be screened and which offenses should disqualify them from jobs. But one rule seems generally accepted.

“If you’re a registered sex offender, that’s going to be a problem,’’ said Jacqueline Reis, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which administers the law.

The National Alliance for Youth Sports advocates disqualifying any official who has been convicted of major crimes, including sex, gun, and drug offenses, no matter how long ago they occurred.

Sex crimes also are considered disqualifiers in the states that currently screen sports officials for criminal records. The rules otherwise vary by state on which crimes should bar a referee from working school games.

Some states disqualify anyone convicted of a felony in the past five years, while others bar anyone with felony convictions in the previous 10 years. Still others, such as Connecticut and North Carolina, have no time limits.

In those states, Paul, Drumgoole, and other ex-offenders identified in the Globe review could be barred from officiating despite the lengthy periods since their crimes — a policy that strikes some former convicts and their advocates as unfair.

Massachusetts has adopted policies aimed at making it easier for ex-offenders to become productive citizens. Under the CORI law, background checks cover only felonies committed in the past 10 years, which means Paul’s and Drumgoole’s CORI records are clean.

In Drumgoole’s case, a Berkshire County jury found him guilty in 1999 of two counts related to distributing crack cocaine in Pittsfield in 1997. He also had been convicted of intimidating witnesses and threatening to commit a crime after he allegedly clutched a handgun in a 1997 street confrontation with his wife’s ex-husband.

Drumgoole was sentenced to 43 days in jail for the intimidation incident and received a 5- to 8-year prison term for the drug convictions.

He now is a member of the Berkshire County chapter of certified basketball officials. He also is a substitute teacher in the Pittsfield public schools.

While Drumgoole might be barred in some states from refereeing school games, he said it would be unjust to terminate his officiating career. He said he has served his time and has not reoffended.

“I understand what the superintendents are saying,’’ Drumgoole said. “Criminal background checks make sense. But you don’t want to take jobs away from people who have paid their debts to society.

“I had one bad year,’’ he said. “I’ve battled long and hard to reinvent myself, so as I move forward all these years later I want to be able to walk into a job interview with the confidence I need, not sweating the fact that I have to talk about my CORI.’’

Leaders of the Berkshire County chapter of basketball officials who have certified and assigned Drumgoole to referee school games declined to comment.

Among the other certified officials in Massachusetts who could be barred from refereeing in some states because of their criminal records is Andrew Puglia, a former Somerville alderman. A disbarred lawyer, Puglia pleaded guilty in 2001 to embezzling more than $160,000 from his clients. He was ordered to serve six months in jail and repay the stolen money. He was on probation until 2012.

Now Puglia, like Paul, is a certified member of the North Shore chapter of basketball officials. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Executive board member Halloran said chapter officials were not aware of Puglia’s conviction until they were contacted by the Globe. He said Puglia has agreed to discuss the matter with them as they review his status.

Leaving trouble behind

American culture is rich with redemption stories. Good citizens in many walks of life have overcome criminal pasts. In Boston, Jahmahl Galloway’s supporters cite him as an example.

In 1992, Galloway had recently completed a promising basketball career at the former Mission High School in Roxbury, when he was charged with illegally possessing a .25-caliber handgun in a gang-menaced area of Humboldt Avenue. He was placed on two years of pretrial probation.

Before Galloway completed his probation, officers assigned to the Boston police antigang violence unit searched a car he was driving in Roxbury and discovered an unlicensed loaded handgun, ammunition, and marijuana. He then was sentenced to a year in jail.

Galloway was 19 when he was first arrested and 22 when he entered the house of corrections.

Twenty years later, he is considered one of the top high school basketball officials in Boston. His supporters say it would be a shame to strip him of his officiating job.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Jahmahl Galloway worked a game between Boston English High and Snowden High School in Boston on Dec. 12.

“A lot of us made mistakes when we were kids,’’ said Madison Park boys’ basketball coach Dennis Wilson, who has known Galloway since he was a child. “I believe everyone except murderers and rapists deserves a second chance, and certainly Jahmahl does. I have seen the changes in him.’’

Galloway, now 42, a foreman at Boston’s Fairview Cemetery, has officiated title games in the city high school playoffs as well as MIAA state tournament contests. He said he referees in part for his love of the game and his potential to help at-risk youths.

“A lot of players or their parents know about the experiences I went through and see the strides I’ve made,’’ Galloway said. “Refereeing has given me an opportunity to help some kids who are on the fence and maybe heading the wrong way. I can let them know about going the right way.’’

Galloway embodies the challenge some state athletic associations face in balancing student safety with the employment rights of school sports officials.

“We’re in the integrity business,’’ said Mark Uyl, assistant director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. “In the ideal situation, anybody with any conviction probably shouldn’t be an official. But you also have to look at the reality of life. People make mistakes, and sometimes we have to make judgment calls.’’

Background checks in Michigan have turned up convictions in about 6 percent — or more than 700 — of the 12,000 school sports officials who have been screened. Many of those offenses were minor, Uyl said, but others were serious enough to end officiating careers.

He said the risk of allowing those ex-convicts to work in the schools was too great to bear.

Bob Hohler can be reached at hohler@globe.com.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/12/21/state-school-athletics-group-doesn-conduct-criminal-background-checks-referees/sZnaggJeBiP1xzW31X4PoO/story.html

at 8:12 am

NYPD probing if hacker posed as New Dorp High School student to post school …

Posted by in School

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Police are investigating whether a hacker stole the identity of a New Dorp High School student, then posted an Instagram photo under the teen’s name threatening a school shooting.

The photo, which spread across social media Sunday afternoon, was posted under the name of a student at New Dorp.

Sources familiar with the incident said detectives are looking into the possibility that someone hacked that student’s account, created a false Instagram profile under his name, and posted the photo.

The student’s father said in an interview with the Advance Sunday night that his son’s identity had been compromised.

“His Facebook account was hacked. He clicked on a link to reset his password… which was a bogus link,” the student’s father said. “It gave whoever was doing this access to all his contacts on Facebook and all his personal information. And this person, in turn, opened an Instagram under his name.

“The police department was here, and the police department checked all of his devices and he does not have an Instagram account, period.”

Though the teen’s name and photo is circulating on social media, the Advance at present is blurring out both.

The post is fashioned to look like a story from MSNBC, with the headline, “BREAKING NEWS: 68 Dead in School Shooting At New Dorp H.S.,” with a photo of the student in question, and a caption stating that he “Killed 68 Students with Mac 11.” That’s a reference to a type of machine gun.

Underneath, a comment reads, “…proud of my work… they’ll all see.”

An NYPD spokeswoman said Sunday night that the police are investigating the matter, and no arrests have been made.

“We’re extremely upset, and taking it extremely seriously,” said New Dorp High School principal Deirdre DeAngelis, noting that she got her first text warning her about the posting Sunday afternoon. “Police were contacted immediately… and they received multiple calls, from myself, from parents, from students. They all did a great job of reporting it immediately.”

The school will remain open on Monday, Ms. DeAngelis said, though police will step up its presence there, and the school will make counselors available to students.

“We will carry on business as close to regular as possible as police continue to investigate the origin of the posting,” she said, adding, “We’re going to be as vigilant as can be.”

In a message sent out to parents and obtained by the Advance, Ms. DeAngelis wrote:

By now most of you have either seen or heard about a post that appeared on the page of one of our New Dorp High School students. Please be aware that the post is being taken very seriously. The authorities and the DOE officials have been notified and there is an investigation taking place as we speak.  I do not know any details, but I can tell you that the student and his parents are cooperating 100%. I am asking all of our students and parents not jump to conclusions until we find out what actually happened. Everyone is vulnerable when it comes to technology, so until the police can verify the origin of the post, please do not point fingers or treat anyone unfairly. The police will try to get back to me later if they have any answers and we will be sure to have security in place tomorrow.
 
I want to thank the many parents, students and staff that called, texted and emailed me immediately. I was able to report this to the police before 2:00 today. Today was a great example of how strong our school community is and how quickly everyone comes together for the safety of our students and staff.  I am truly proud to be a part of this special school!!

The teen’s father said he doesn’t know if his son was targeted by someone he knows, or by a random hacker.

“I don’t know what the hell is going on here. Let me tell you something, we’re nothing but law-abiding citizens, and I had 10 cops in my living room,” the father said, praising the police response. “It’s terrible. It’s a nightmare. This is an absolute nightmare. He clicked on a link, and the first we heard of this is today.

“I certainly hope that they do catch whoever did this… I intend to get the best lawyer I can possibly pay for, and go after them with the full weight of the law,” the father continued.

One parent, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said she wouldn’t send her two children to school on Monday.

“Absolutely not. I will not let my kids go to school until they figure this out,” the parent said.

“Even if it was a Photoshop and the kid was claiming that his account was hacked, somebody’s thinking this, someone did this, and they need to get to the bottom line of it before we send our kids back to school… People just don’t get up and do things like that.”

– Advance staff writers Zak Koeske and Andrew Simontacchi contributed to this report.

http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/12/instagram_post_alludes_to_masi.html

at 8:12 am

NYPD probing if hacker posed as New Dorp High School student to post school …

Posted by in School

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Police are investigating whether a hacker stole the identity of a New Dorp High School student, then posted an Instagram photo under the teen’s name threatening a school shooting.

The photo, which spread across social media Sunday afternoon, was posted under the name of a student at New Dorp.

Sources familiar with the incident said detectives are looking into the possibility that someone hacked that student’s account, created a false Instagram profile under his name, and posted the photo.

The student’s father said in an interview with the Advance Sunday night that his son’s identity had been compromised.

“His Facebook account was hacked. He clicked on a link to reset his password… which was a bogus link,” the student’s father said. “It gave whoever was doing this access to all his contacts on Facebook and all his personal information. And this person, in turn, opened an Instagram under his name.

“The police department was here, and the police department checked all of his devices and he does not have an Instagram account, period.”

Though the teen’s name and photo is circulating on social media, the Advance at present is blurring out both.

The post is fashioned to look like a story from MSNBC, with the headline, “BREAKING NEWS: 68 Dead in School Shooting At New Dorp H.S.,” with a photo of the student in question, and a caption stating that he “Killed 68 Students with Mac 11.” That’s a reference to a type of machine gun.

Underneath, a comment reads, “…proud of my work… they’ll all see.”

An NYPD spokeswoman said Sunday night that the police are investigating the matter, and no arrests have been made.

“We’re extremely upset, and taking it extremely seriously,” said New Dorp High School principal Deirdre DeAngelis, noting that she got her first text warning her about the posting Sunday afternoon. “Police were contacted immediately… and they received multiple calls, from myself, from parents, from students. They all did a great job of reporting it immediately.”

The school will remain open on Monday, Ms. DeAngelis said, though police will step up its presence there, and the school will make counselors available to students.

“We will carry on business as close to regular as possible as police continue to investigate the origin of the posting,” she said, adding, “We’re going to be as vigilant as can be.”

In a message sent out to parents and obtained by the Advance, Ms. DeAngelis wrote:

By now most of you have either seen or heard about a post that appeared on the page of one of our New Dorp High School students. Please be aware that the post is being taken very seriously. The authorities and the DOE officials have been notified and there is an investigation taking place as we speak.  I do not know any details, but I can tell you that the student and his parents are cooperating 100%. I am asking all of our students and parents not jump to conclusions until we find out what actually happened. Everyone is vulnerable when it comes to technology, so until the police can verify the origin of the post, please do not point fingers or treat anyone unfairly. The police will try to get back to me later if they have any answers and we will be sure to have security in place tomorrow.
 
I want to thank the many parents, students and staff that called, texted and emailed me immediately. I was able to report this to the police before 2:00 today. Today was a great example of how strong our school community is and how quickly everyone comes together for the safety of our students and staff.  I am truly proud to be a part of this special school!!

The teen’s father said he doesn’t know if his son was targeted by someone he knows, or by a random hacker.

“I don’t know what the hell is going on here. Let me tell you something, we’re nothing but law-abiding citizens, and I had 10 cops in my living room,” the father said, praising the police response. “It’s terrible. It’s a nightmare. This is an absolute nightmare. He clicked on a link, and the first we heard of this is today.

“I certainly hope that they do catch whoever did this… I intend to get the best lawyer I can possibly pay for, and go after them with the full weight of the law,” the father continued.

One parent, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said she wouldn’t send her two children to school on Monday.

“Absolutely not. I will not let my kids go to school until they figure this out,” the parent said.

“Even if it was a Photoshop and the kid was claiming that his account was hacked, somebody’s thinking this, someone did this, and they need to get to the bottom line of it before we send our kids back to school… People just don’t get up and do things like that.”

– Advance staff writers Zak Koeske and Andrew Simontacchi contributed to this report.

http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/12/instagram_post_alludes_to_masi.html

at 8:12 am

NYPD probing if hacker posed as New Dorp High School student to post school …

Posted by in School

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Police are investigating whether a hacker stole the identity of a New Dorp High School student, then posted an Instagram photo under the teen’s name threatening a school shooting.

The photo, which spread across social media Sunday afternoon, was posted under the name of a student at New Dorp.

Sources familiar with the incident said detectives are looking into the possibility that someone hacked that student’s account, created a false Instagram profile under his name, and posted the photo.

The student’s father said in an interview with the Advance Sunday night that his son’s identity had been compromised.

“His Facebook account was hacked. He clicked on a link to reset his password… which was a bogus link,” the student’s father said. “It gave whoever was doing this access to all his contacts on Facebook and all his personal information. And this person, in turn, opened an Instagram under his name.

“The police department was here, and the police department checked all of his devices and he does not have an Instagram account, period.”

Though the teen’s name and photo is circulating on social media, the Advance at present is blurring out both.

The post is fashioned to look like a story from MSNBC, with the headline, “BREAKING NEWS: 68 Dead in School Shooting At New Dorp H.S.,” with a photo of the student in question, and a caption stating that he “Killed 68 Students with Mac 11.” That’s a reference to a type of machine gun.

Underneath, a comment reads, “…proud of my work… they’ll all see.”

An NYPD spokeswoman said Sunday night that the police are investigating the matter, and no arrests have been made.

“We’re extremely upset, and taking it extremely seriously,” said New Dorp High School principal Deirdre DeAngelis, noting that she got her first text warning her about the posting Sunday afternoon. “Police were contacted immediately… and they received multiple calls, from myself, from parents, from students. They all did a great job of reporting it immediately.”

The school will remain open on Monday, Ms. DeAngelis said, though police will step up its presence there, and the school will make counselors available to students.

“We will carry on business as close to regular as possible as police continue to investigate the origin of the posting,” she said, adding, “We’re going to be as vigilant as can be.”

In a message sent out to parents and obtained by the Advance, Ms. DeAngelis wrote:

By now most of you have either seen or heard about a post that appeared on the page of one of our New Dorp High School students. Please be aware that the post is being taken very seriously. The authorities and the DOE officials have been notified and there is an investigation taking place as we speak.  I do not know any details, but I can tell you that the student and his parents are cooperating 100%. I am asking all of our students and parents not jump to conclusions until we find out what actually happened. Everyone is vulnerable when it comes to technology, so until the police can verify the origin of the post, please do not point fingers or treat anyone unfairly. The police will try to get back to me later if they have any answers and we will be sure to have security in place tomorrow.
 
I want to thank the many parents, students and staff that called, texted and emailed me immediately. I was able to report this to the police before 2:00 today. Today was a great example of how strong our school community is and how quickly everyone comes together for the safety of our students and staff.  I am truly proud to be a part of this special school!!

The teen’s father said he doesn’t know if his son was targeted by someone he knows, or by a random hacker.

“I don’t know what the hell is going on here. Let me tell you something, we’re nothing but law-abiding citizens, and I had 10 cops in my living room,” the father said, praising the police response. “It’s terrible. It’s a nightmare. This is an absolute nightmare. He clicked on a link, and the first we heard of this is today.

“I certainly hope that they do catch whoever did this… I intend to get the best lawyer I can possibly pay for, and go after them with the full weight of the law,” the father continued.

One parent, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said she wouldn’t send her two children to school on Monday.

“Absolutely not. I will not let my kids go to school until they figure this out,” the parent said.

“Even if it was a Photoshop and the kid was claiming that his account was hacked, somebody’s thinking this, someone did this, and they need to get to the bottom line of it before we send our kids back to school… People just don’t get up and do things like that.”

– Advance staff writers Zak Koeske and Andrew Simontacchi contributed to this report.

http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/12/instagram_post_alludes_to_masi.html

at 8:12 am

NYPD probing if hacker posed as New Dorp High School student to post school …

Posted by in School

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Police are investigating whether a hacker stole the identity of a New Dorp High School student, then posted an Instagram photo under the teen’s name threatening a school shooting.

The photo, which spread across social media Sunday afternoon, was posted under the name of a student at New Dorp.

Sources familiar with the incident said detectives are looking into the possibility that someone hacked that student’s account, created a false Instagram profile under his name, and posted the photo.

The student’s father said in an interview with the Advance Sunday night that his son’s identity had been compromised.

“His Facebook account was hacked. He clicked on a link to reset his password… which was a bogus link,” the student’s father said. “It gave whoever was doing this access to all his contacts on Facebook and all his personal information. And this person, in turn, opened an Instagram under his name.

“The police department was here, and the police department checked all of his devices and he does not have an Instagram account, period.”

Though the teen’s name and photo is circulating on social media, the Advance at present is blurring out both.

The post is fashioned to look like a story from MSNBC, with the headline, “BREAKING NEWS: 68 Dead in School Shooting At New Dorp H.S.,” with a photo of the student in question, and a caption stating that he “Killed 68 Students with Mac 11.” That’s a reference to a type of machine gun.

Underneath, a comment reads, “…proud of my work… they’ll all see.”

An NYPD spokeswoman said Sunday night that the police are investigating the matter, and no arrests have been made.

“We’re extremely upset, and taking it extremely seriously,” said New Dorp High School principal Deirdre DeAngelis, noting that she got her first text warning her about the posting Sunday afternoon. “Police were contacted immediately… and they received multiple calls, from myself, from parents, from students. They all did a great job of reporting it immediately.”

The school will remain open on Monday, Ms. DeAngelis said, though police will step up its presence there, and the school will make counselors available to students.

“We will carry on business as close to regular as possible as police continue to investigate the origin of the posting,” she said, adding, “We’re going to be as vigilant as can be.”

In a message sent out to parents and obtained by the Advance, Ms. DeAngelis wrote:

By now most of you have either seen or heard about a post that appeared on the page of one of our New Dorp High School students. Please be aware that the post is being taken very seriously. The authorities and the DOE officials have been notified and there is an investigation taking place as we speak.  I do not know any details, but I can tell you that the student and his parents are cooperating 100%. I am asking all of our students and parents not jump to conclusions until we find out what actually happened. Everyone is vulnerable when it comes to technology, so until the police can verify the origin of the post, please do not point fingers or treat anyone unfairly. The police will try to get back to me later if they have any answers and we will be sure to have security in place tomorrow.
 
I want to thank the many parents, students and staff that called, texted and emailed me immediately. I was able to report this to the police before 2:00 today. Today was a great example of how strong our school community is and how quickly everyone comes together for the safety of our students and staff.  I am truly proud to be a part of this special school!!

The teen’s father said he doesn’t know if his son was targeted by someone he knows, or by a random hacker.

“I don’t know what the hell is going on here. Let me tell you something, we’re nothing but law-abiding citizens, and I had 10 cops in my living room,” the father said, praising the police response. “It’s terrible. It’s a nightmare. This is an absolute nightmare. He clicked on a link, and the first we heard of this is today.

“I certainly hope that they do catch whoever did this… I intend to get the best lawyer I can possibly pay for, and go after them with the full weight of the law,” the father continued.

One parent, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said she wouldn’t send her two children to school on Monday.

“Absolutely not. I will not let my kids go to school until they figure this out,” the parent said.

“Even if it was a Photoshop and the kid was claiming that his account was hacked, somebody’s thinking this, someone did this, and they need to get to the bottom line of it before we send our kids back to school… People just don’t get up and do things like that.”

– Advance staff writers Zak Koeske and Andrew Simontacchi contributed to this report.

http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/12/instagram_post_alludes_to_masi.html

at 8:12 am

Pakistan makes arrests in Taliban school massacre

Posted by in School

Authorities made several arrests in the case of the Taliban school attack that killed 148 in the northwestern city of Peshawar, on Sunday, officials said.

“Quite a few suspects who were facilitators in one way or the other have been taken into custody,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said, adding that the interrogations were “moving ahead in a positive manner.” He did not disclose their identities or say how many they were.

Seven Taliban gunmen wearing explosives belts stunned the world on Tuesday by storming into the military run school and slaughtering 148 people, including 132 students. Another nearly 121 students were wounded in the ensuing eight-hour siege of the school, located in an area where many military families live.

The group claims it fights to establish a ruling system based on its own harsh brand of Islam. It has killed thousands over nearly a decade.

The Taliban say they attacked the school in revenge for an army operation against them in North Waziristan, launched in mid-June. The army says it has so far killed over 1,200 militants in the operation.

The government bombed the militants’ hideouts in country’s tribal area along the Afghan border in response, and also lifted a ban on the execution of convicted terrorists.

Over the weekend, it executed six men convicted on terrorism charges.

Two of the convicts were hanged Friday, and another four on Sunday, according to two Pakistani government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

All six belonged to local Pakistani militant groups who had turned against the state, and were convicted for involvement in two attempts to assassinate former President Pervez Musharraf. One was also convicted of leading a militant siege of Pakistani army headquarters in garrison city of Rawalpindi in 2009.

Local militants have threatened attacks to avenge the hanged men.

Khan, the minister, said Pakistan was at war with the militants. He appealed to the nation to help authorities in a countrywide crackdown on the insurgents.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/12/21/pakistan-makes-arrests-in-taliban-school-massacre/

at 8:12 am

Pakistan makes arrests in Taliban school massacre

Posted by in School

Authorities made several arrests in the case of the Taliban school attack that killed 148 in the northwestern city of Peshawar, on Sunday, officials said.

“Quite a few suspects who were facilitators in one way or the other have been taken into custody,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said, adding that the interrogations were “moving ahead in a positive manner.” He did not disclose their identities or say how many they were.

Seven Taliban gunmen wearing explosives belts stunned the world on Tuesday by storming into the military run school and slaughtering 148 people, including 132 students. Another nearly 121 students were wounded in the ensuing eight-hour siege of the school, located in an area where many military families live.

The group claims it fights to establish a ruling system based on its own harsh brand of Islam. It has killed thousands over nearly a decade.

The Taliban say they attacked the school in revenge for an army operation against them in North Waziristan, launched in mid-June. The army says it has so far killed over 1,200 militants in the operation.

The government bombed the militants’ hideouts in country’s tribal area along the Afghan border in response, and also lifted a ban on the execution of convicted terrorists.

Over the weekend, it executed six men convicted on terrorism charges.

Two of the convicts were hanged Friday, and another four on Sunday, according to two Pakistani government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

All six belonged to local Pakistani militant groups who had turned against the state, and were convicted for involvement in two attempts to assassinate former President Pervez Musharraf. One was also convicted of leading a militant siege of Pakistani army headquarters in garrison city of Rawalpindi in 2009.

Local militants have threatened attacks to avenge the hanged men.

Khan, the minister, said Pakistan was at war with the militants. He appealed to the nation to help authorities in a countrywide crackdown on the insurgents.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/12/21/pakistan-makes-arrests-in-taliban-school-massacre/

at 8:12 am

Pakistan makes arrests in Taliban school massacre

Posted by in School

Authorities made several arrests in the case of the Taliban school attack that killed 148 in the northwestern city of Peshawar, on Sunday, officials said.

“Quite a few suspects who were facilitators in one way or the other have been taken into custody,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said, adding that the interrogations were “moving ahead in a positive manner.” He did not disclose their identities or say how many they were.

Seven Taliban gunmen wearing explosives belts stunned the world on Tuesday by storming into the military run school and slaughtering 148 people, including 132 students. Another nearly 121 students were wounded in the ensuing eight-hour siege of the school, located in an area where many military families live.

The group claims it fights to establish a ruling system based on its own harsh brand of Islam. It has killed thousands over nearly a decade.

The Taliban say they attacked the school in revenge for an army operation against them in North Waziristan, launched in mid-June. The army says it has so far killed over 1,200 militants in the operation.

The government bombed the militants’ hideouts in country’s tribal area along the Afghan border in response, and also lifted a ban on the execution of convicted terrorists.

Over the weekend, it executed six men convicted on terrorism charges.

Two of the convicts were hanged Friday, and another four on Sunday, according to two Pakistani government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

All six belonged to local Pakistani militant groups who had turned against the state, and were convicted for involvement in two attempts to assassinate former President Pervez Musharraf. One was also convicted of leading a militant siege of Pakistani army headquarters in garrison city of Rawalpindi in 2009.

Local militants have threatened attacks to avenge the hanged men.

Khan, the minister, said Pakistan was at war with the militants. He appealed to the nation to help authorities in a countrywide crackdown on the insurgents.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/12/21/pakistan-makes-arrests-in-taliban-school-massacre/

at 8:12 am

Pakistan makes arrests in Taliban school massacre

Posted by in School

Authorities made several arrests in the case of the Taliban school attack that killed 148 in the northwestern city of Peshawar, on Sunday, officials said.

“Quite a few suspects who were facilitators in one way or the other have been taken into custody,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said, adding that the interrogations were “moving ahead in a positive manner.” He did not disclose their identities or say how many they were.

Seven Taliban gunmen wearing explosives belts stunned the world on Tuesday by storming into the military run school and slaughtering 148 people, including 132 students. Another nearly 121 students were wounded in the ensuing eight-hour siege of the school, located in an area where many military families live.

The group claims it fights to establish a ruling system based on its own harsh brand of Islam. It has killed thousands over nearly a decade.

The Taliban say they attacked the school in revenge for an army operation against them in North Waziristan, launched in mid-June. The army says it has so far killed over 1,200 militants in the operation.

The government bombed the militants’ hideouts in country’s tribal area along the Afghan border in response, and also lifted a ban on the execution of convicted terrorists.

Over the weekend, it executed six men convicted on terrorism charges.

Two of the convicts were hanged Friday, and another four on Sunday, according to two Pakistani government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

All six belonged to local Pakistani militant groups who had turned against the state, and were convicted for involvement in two attempts to assassinate former President Pervez Musharraf. One was also convicted of leading a militant siege of Pakistani army headquarters in garrison city of Rawalpindi in 2009.

Local militants have threatened attacks to avenge the hanged men.

Khan, the minister, said Pakistan was at war with the militants. He appealed to the nation to help authorities in a countrywide crackdown on the insurgents.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/12/21/pakistan-makes-arrests-in-taliban-school-massacre/

at 2:12 am

Salisbury Christmas program takes stand against bullying

Salisbury musicians, performers and speakers will gather Saturday to take a stand against bullying. Billed as the “Anti-Bullying Christmas Special,” the blended worship service and community program starts at 8 p.m. Dec. 27 at the Inn, 1012 Mooresville Road, in Salisbury. Contact local artist/gospel rapper Capa for more details at 336-309-3465. Jonathan McFadden

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/12/21/5399769/salisbury-christmas-program-takes.html

at 2:12 am

Lincoln residents demand tougher bullying stance

Michael McCracken, 14, stood out on a street corner Saturday in Lincoln with friends, family members and complete strangers to bring attention to bullying.

Watch report: Lincoln student organizes anti-bullying rally

“I get bullied every day,” McCracken said. “I’ve been bullied since I’ve been in kindergarten. I’ve always been different. I can’t really change that.”

The openly gay teen said he has experienced name-calling and worse on a regular basis at Lincoln High School in Placer County.

“There’s worse days and then there are OK days,” McCracken said.

McCracken said he can relate to the news of a 12-year-old Folsom boy who recently committed suicide. The seventh-grader, who KCRA has chosen not to identify because he is a juvenile, was allegedly bullied for years.

“It broke my heart,” McCracken said. “I didn’t know them, but I mean for you to feel like that and that low, I mean there needs to be change.”

Supporters add that it’s time for schools to intervene more when students report bullying.

“There tends to be a theme where the victims are punished as opposed to the perpetrators of the bullying, and that’s not appropriate,” said Beverly Kearney, leader of the Love is Love movement.

School administrators said they have tried to investigate McCracken’s allegations of bullying, but said the family hasn’t provided names or specific details.

The West Placer School District released a statement that said, in part: “(Lincoln High School) has implemented numerous interventions over the past few years to prevent and address bullying.”

Drivers passing the demonstration honked and expressed signs of support, but McCracken and his mother both fear the teen will face the possibility of more bullying simply because he is bringing his story to the forefront. 

http://www.kcra.com/news/lincoln-residents-demand-tougher-bullying-stance/30337122