Family

Family Questions Punishment of Autistic Hamilton County Kindergartener

A Tennessee family says their autistic son is being unfairly punished after kissing another classmate on the cheek, the Washington Post reports. The 5-year-old Hamilton County kindergartener was diagnosed with autism several years ago and suffers from phonological disorder, which his mother says prevents him from understanding boundaries and personal space. After meeting with school officials regarding the child’s IEP, the mother was told that the child often hugged children and looked under a teacher’s dress in addition to the kissing incident.  The mother also alleges in a Newsweek article that school officials said the behavior amounted to "sexual activity” and that his permanent record would label him a sex offender. Hamilton County Schools said the district is bound by privacy laws that do not allow it to publicly discuss what happened in the classroom, but it denies allegations of wrongdoing and disagrees with how the family has framed the issue.

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Family, Classmates Call for Prosecution of Cyberbullying That Drove Coffee County Teen to Suicide

The suicide of a 16-year-old who was outed online is reigniting concerns over cyberbullying and has led a call for the prosecution of those involved in the incident, the New York Times reports. Channing Smith, a junior at Coffee County Central High School, took his own life after sexually explicit text messages shared with a male classmate were revealed on social media. Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott — who reportedly is under investigation by the Board of Professional Responsibility after previously saying he wouldn't prosecute domestic violence cases involving same-sex couples — said his office has encouraged, cooperated in and supported the investigation, and that “when all relevant facts are available, my office will advise the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department on what charges, if any, we believe are appropriate to help guide it in that decision.”

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Adult Children Describe the Life of a Caregiver

The New York Times today published an article featuring personal comments from readers describing the unique challenges of adult children who have put their lives on hold to assist aging parents. The piece details not only the financial strains and sacrifices made by some of these children, but also the joy and enrichment of caring for a loved one through this stage in their life. The readers’ comments came in response to two recent NYT stories regarding a Connecticut home health aide and another about women forgoing careers to care for older relatives.

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Report: Tennessee Ranks 49th for Support of Family Caregivers

The Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee recently released a report regarding its study on supporting working caregivers, offering an overview of issues faced by relatives and others who assist older adults, and insight on how the state might assist with the needs of these individuals. The study, The Case for Care Giving: Why Middle Tennessee Employers Should Support Employee Caregivers, shows that Tennessee ranks 49th for support of family caregivers and 32nd for support of working caregivers. Another highlighted concern is the lack of preparation in providing care for aging persons. You can read the report in its entirety using this link.

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TDOE Releases 2019 TNReady Results

A recent assessment by the Tennessee Department of Education shows considerable improvements statewide regarding students’ TNReady scores, particularly in math and language arts subjects. The study, broken down regionally, also indicates that 56 percent of the state’s schools improved their overall growth scores that measure a student’s comparative performance to his or her peers based on similar past assessments. You can review the report in its entirety using this link

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Tennessee Lawmaker Moves to Repeal School Voucher Program

Tennessee Rep. Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville, last week filed a bill that intends to repeal Gov. Bill Lee’s signature school voucher legislation that would provide state funds to qualifying students, allowing them to apply the money to private school tuition, WZTV Nashville reports. The bill, HB1550, seeks to amend TCA Title 49, Chapter 6 to completely delete the Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program, codified on May 24. The law has been mired in controversy since its introduction, with the ACLU calling it "unfair and discriminatory” and the FBI investigating whether incentives were given to lawmakers in exchange for their support.

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Growing Social Justice on the Farm of Alex Haley

A woman in Clinton, Tennessee is using the late Roots author Alex Haley’s farm to develop a new generation of social justice leaders — advocates for children, NPR reports. Civil rights lawyer Marian Wright Edelman, who was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, has begun classes on the farm to train proponents and familiarize them with her Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) program, which she founded on the cusp of the civil rights movement in 1973. CDF seeks to ensure that every child has a fair start in life and successful passage to adulthood through stronger families and communities, regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds. Edelman says the idea for CDF came to her when she was a civil rights attorney during the Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964.

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Chattanooga Detention Center Offers Parenting Class for Fathers

Fathers incarcerated at Chattanooga’s Silverdale Detention Center now have the opportunity to participate in a four-week course intended to make them better dads, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The program, named 24/7 Dad, addresses basic parenting skills and self-betterment through interactive classes in the detention center, with the local Salvation Army also providing classes and assistance to inmates after release. The Rutherford County Adult Detention Center has a similar successful program for incarcerated mothers, offering parenting classes and increased visits with their children. 

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Gov. Lee Is Unconvinced Regarding Red Flag Laws

Gov. Bill Lee on Monday said that he won’t commit to supporting red flag laws as he is not convinced that it is the best path forward for the state, The Tennessean reports. The laws seek to curb gun violence by authorizing courts to issue special orders of protection, allowing law enforcement to temporarily confiscate firearms from people that a judge rules are a danger to themselves or others. When asked by reporters about his stance on such measures, Lee replied: "I haven't analyzed that option yet … It's early for us to talk about which direction we want to go." Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, in February introduced SB1178 that would allow an extreme risk protection order be filed in General Sessions based on “clear and convincing evidence that the respondent poses a significant risk of causing personal injury to the respondent or others by possessing a firearm;” however, that bill stalled in the General Assembly. 

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Office of Conservatorship Management Offers Free Training Program

The Davidson County Office of Conservatorship Management (OCM) introduced its OCM Conservatorship School this year that consists of a series of videos and quizzes that detail the statutorily required fiduciary duties of a conservator. This online training program allows a conservator to receive a certificate of completion after successfully passing the quiz associated with each training video. OCM is offering this service free of charge to all conservators and potential conservators in the state of Tennessee, and the entire program can be completed in one hour. To learn more and access the Conservatorship School visit the OCM website.

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