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Florida transgender teen wins lawsuit against school board

A federal judge ruled in favor of a Florida high school student who sued the St. Johns County School Board over claims of discrimination.

>> Read more trending news

Drew Adams, 17, who is transgender, will head into his senior year at Nease High School knowing he can use the bathroom of his choice.

“I can go into my senior year focusing on college applications, IB testing instead of lawsuits,” Adams said. “Now I can finally be like any other kid at my school, like any other boy, and I’m really excited about that.”

A federal judge said he can now use the boys' bathroom,

“I’ve been all smiles,” Adams said. 

Last June, Adams and his mother sued the St. Johns County School Board after he was told he could only use the gender neutral or girls' restroom.

Adams used the boys' restroom when he started his freshman year at Nease without any incident. At some point, Adams said someone anonymously reported that he was using the boys’ restroom, and he was no longer able to use it. 

A federal judge disagreed. In his ruling the judge said, “the evidence is that Drew Adams poses no threat to the privacy or safety of his fellow students. When it comes to his use of the bathroom, the law requires that he be treated like any other boy.” 

Adams’ attorney, Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, said Thursday’s ruling sets the stage for other transgender cases. 

“I think it will show to other school districts across Florida and across the country that they better watch out, and they can’t discriminate (against) transgender students. Otherwise they will be subject to lawsuits because they will be violating the Constitution and federal civil rights law,” he said.

“Today is a reminder for me that we can always have hope, and we always need to have hope,” Adams said. 

The school district will have to pay $1,000 in damages and attorney fees to Adams. 

Teacher in awe as strangers on plane donate $530 to her low-income students

A Chicago charter school teacher's heartwarming story of how strangers on a plane donated hundreds of dollars to her low-income students is going viral.

>> Nonprofit helping pay off mortgage on slain police officer's family home

According to WMAQ, Kimber Bermudez, who teaches at Carlos Fuentes Elementary School, was on a Southwest Airlines flight to Florida last week when the passenger next to her sparked up a conversation about her job. After learning that Bermudez is a teacher, he asked her about the greatest challenge she faces at her school.

"I told him that working at a low-income school can be heartbreaking," Bermudez wrote in a Facebook post. "We talked about the world and how no child should ever do without. In 2018, kids should never be hungry or in need of anything."

He then asked for Bermudez's contact information, saying his company often donates to schools like hers.

But the acts of kindness didn't stop there.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

"The man behind me tapped my shoulder," Bermudez wrote. "I turned around and he apologized for listening in to my conversation, and he handed me a wad of cash. He told me to 'do something amazing' and sat back down. I was in complete awe that I had touched a stranger. I realized that there was $100 on top, and started to cry. I thanked him and told him how I would buy my students books and give back to the community. I didn’t count the money from that man, but I would later find out that he gave me $500."

After the plane landed, another man who overheard the conversation gave her $20, while another handed her $10, Bermudez said.

>> Read more trending news 

"I started crying on the plane," she wrote. "I told all four men that I would do something amazing for the kids. I was not telling my story to solicit money, and never intended to walk out of that flight with anything other than my carry on. I do however hope that posting this continues the chain reaction of people helping those in need, and especially the children in need."

Bermudez said her "heart is in complete shock and awe."

"This experience made me want to do more for the kids, and use my gift of speaking to help others in need," she wrote. "I want to pass this story around, and thank those strangers and their amazing hearts!"

Read more here or here.

>> See Bermudez's Facebook post here

Does a checklist add too much pressure for first day of kindergarten?

They have picked out the perfect backpacks and matching lunchboxes. The lists of school supplies have been purchased, labeled and stacked, and they’re ready to head to class.

But is your new kindergartner really ready to head to school?

In 2016, a Reddit user, identified as Lucas Hatcher by "Today," posted a photo of a kindergarten checklist on the website. He titled the thread, "I have failed to prepare my son for Kindergarden (sic)."

>> Read more trending stories  

It didn’t have simple kindergarten expectations like using the restroom by oneself and sitting still for a short period of time.

Instead, it contained tasks like writing one's name, knowing 30-plus letters -- meaning upper and lower case -- counting to 10 or more and cutting correctly with scissors.

Hatcher titled the photo, "I have failed to prepare my son for Kindergarden (sic)."

Hatcher said he focused on the 30-plus letter requirement, since the alphabet has only 26 letters. But according to "Today," many people reacted to what they thought was the extreme nature of the requirements.

"Today" reported that, according to another Redditor, the school their son attends expected him to read fluently by the end of the year. 

"Today" contacted Tom Arnold, the principal of Ooltewah Elementary School, the school that sent out the list posted by Hatcher. Arnold said the checklist, which also included a list of fees and supplies needed for the year, was sent to provide guidance so parents could get their children ready for school.

Educational psychologist Michele Borba told "Today" that Ooltewah's list is comparable to what is expected across the country because of competitive preschools that start teaching academics earlier than in decades past.

Early school starts may be hazardous to kids' health, CDC says

Students throughout the ages have been saying that school starts too early, but according to one report, they may be right. 

A 2015 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that students are not getting enough sleep due to classes that start before 8:30 a.m.

>> Read more trending stories  

It's those early starts that are making it difficult for teens to get the sleep they need, leaving them chronically sleep-deprived and exhausted.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teens ages 13 to 18 get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, their natural sleep rhythms make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m.

Because of the lack of sleep, teens who get too little sleep are more likely to be overweight or depressed. They may also do poorly in school and try tobacco, alcohol and drugs, according to AASM.

Two-thirds of teens say they get less than eight hours a sleep a night, according to the CDC

Middle school teacher accused of drunkenly biting 14-year-old girl underwater at lake

A Georgia school district confirmed Friday that one of its teachers is the man accused of drunkenly biting a 14-year-old girl’s buttocks at Lake Lanier Islands on July 4.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Man charged with sexual battery after allegedly biting teen girl underwater

Jonathan William Herbert, 30, has been a teacher at Snellville Middle School since Aug. 1, 2016, said Gwinnett County Public Schools spokesman Bernard Watson.

Watson said the district opened an internal investigation following Herbert’s arrest.

The Braselton girl was swimming at the Buford beach when Herbert allegedly swam under the water and bit her in front of multiple beachgoers, according to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. 

>> Read more trending news 

Investigators said they don’t think he has any connection to the girl or her family.

Herbert faces charges of sexual battery against a child under 16, second-degree cruelty to a child, battery and public drunkenness.

He was booked into jail on Thursday and bonded out later that day, according to the Hall County jail.

Texas 7th-grader with autism gets perfect score on standardized math test

A Texas seventh-grader with autism loves video games, sushi, and math.

>> Read more trending news

And in math, Cade Elias is a star student.

The 13-year-old’s ability in math is unparalleled in the Frisco Independent School District, because he got every question correct on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) program, WFAA reported.

His mother, Renee Elias, was stunned. 

“I said ‘You got a perfect score on the math STAAR (test).’ And he said, ‘What?!,” Elias told WFAA.

“She looked at the actual percentage and she almost fell out of her chair,” Cade said.

“I did. I just about fell out of my chair,” Elias said.

Cade said the test was not that tough. 

“Some parts were hard but most of it was easy,” he told WFAA.

During summer vacation, Cade said he plays an app called Prodigy Math, the television station reported.

According to the Frisco ISD, 4,677 seventh-graders took the math portion of the STAAR test this spring. Of that number, only 5 percent -- 235 students -- got every question right, WFAA reported.

“For someone like this child who started as non-verbal who went all the way up to acing the STAAR test in seventh grade -- gives hope and lets people know our children can move along that spectrum and can start with low-functioning and go up to higher-functioning. It takes a lot of education, a lot of therapy, a lot of hard work on their part, but it’s possible,” Nagla Moussa, board member of the National Autism Association of North Texas, told WFAA.

“I’m a very proud mom. I couldn’t be more proud. It’s a big accomplishment,” Elias said about her son. “This is an indication that we’re gonna get there, and he’s gonna be fine.”

Georgia teacher’s request for funeral: Backpacks with school supplies

After decades of service to her students, one metro Atlanta teacher had one final lesson to impart.

Tammy Layne Waddell died June 9 at Northside Hospital Forsyth after a prolonged illness. At her funeral June 12, dozens of backpacks filled with school supplies lined the pews.

>> Read more trending news 

The donated supplies were Waddell’s last request to honor her lifelong passion for helping children in need, according to her family.

“My cousin, a teacher, wanted backpacks with supplies brought to her funeral instead of flowers for needy students,” Brad Johnson said on Twitter. “Serving others to the end.”

Johnson shared photos of the backpacks and of Waddell’s fellow teachers, who served as honorary pallbearers at the funeral, he said. 

Over her career, Waddell worked as a paraprofessional and a teacher at Sawnee Elementary, Cumming Elementary and Haw Creek Elementary in the Forsyth County school district, according to her family.

Johnson’s initial tweet has since been shared more than 2,500 times, garnering praise for Waddell and her legacy as an educator.

Former students who left condolences on an online guestbookdescribed Waddell as a compassionate and inventive teacher who encouraged students to do their best. 

“The best teacher ever I’ve ever had,” one student wrote.

Diplomas temporarily stripped from 2 students who wore military cords at graduation

Two North Carolina students said they had their diplomas taken away because they wore military cords around their necks at graduation.

>> Woman graduates from Naval Academy 5 years after struggling to get ex-NFL player dad's signature

The two graduates wore the special cords during graduation to symbolize their enlistment in the U.S. Army.

Their celebration turned to punishment after they wore their cords Friday at West Bladen High School in Bladen County, located in eastern North Carolina.

A school administrator said they broke the rules because their cords weren't pre-approved.

>> Read more trending news 

"Ms. Kelly came up to them and asked them if she could see the diplomas, and they handed them to her and she kept them," a mother, Wendy Paris, said. "I don't have a problem with rules and policies, but some of them are ridiculous."

Paris said she was able to get her son's diploma back the day after graduation.

Elementary school’s name changes from honoring Confederate general to honoring Barack Obama

Elementary school students will be attending a new school but in the same building when they return to class in the fall. 

The Richmond School Board voted 6-1 Monday to rename J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School to Barack Obama Elementary School. It was the city’s only school named in honor of the Confederacy, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The lone holdout, Kenya Gibson, had asked for a delay of the vote because there were no local names being considered in the school’s renaming. Gibson represents the 3rd District where Barack Obama Elementary School is located.

>> Read more trending news 

This isn’t the first school named for the country’s first African-American president. A new elementary school in New Haven, Connecticut will be named after Obama. Another school in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, is also named for the 44th president, the Times-Dispatch reported.

A school in Mississippi changed its name from Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, to Obama.

The Richmond School Board said it will cost the district $26,000 to make the change, including new signage, new mats with the name written on them, new stationery, business cards and other office supplies and T-shirts for faculty, staff and students, the Times-Dispatch reported.

'At Last': School receptionist celebrates summer break with viral intercom serenade

A school receptionist's stunning ode to summer is going viral.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

According to USA Today, Regina Ballard, who works at North Lincoln High in Lincolnton, North Carolina, took to the school intercom Wednesday to welcome summer break with a joyful rendition of Etta James' "At Last."

The performance, which was captured on video, quickly made the rounds on social media.

>> Read more trending news 

"I love my job, y'all, but I look forward to summers when I can spend time with my grands & family, it is...At Last!!!" Ballard, 57, wrote Wednesday in a Facebook post that racked up more than 11,000 shares and 620,000 views by Sunday morning.

>> Watch the video here

Ballard told USA Today that she's "blown away" by all the attention.

Read more here.

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