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Baltimore Closes Public Schools To Sort Out Inadequate Heating System

Although classes have been suspended for the week, the state of the city’s school district may be indicative of Baltimore as a whole. 

Baltimore Public Schools decided to suspend classes on Thursday (Jan. 4), after receiving widespread criticism for forcing their students to attend class in dangerous conditions the day prior, CNN reports.

On Wednesday (Jan. 3), outrage was hurled at the Maryland city's school system as photos surfaced online of students in classrooms layered in their coats, gloves, and scarves. Not only did this anger the children’s parents, but also generated frustration from teachers as well.

The president of the Baltimore Teacher’s Union, Marietta English, used a hand-delivered letter to “implore” that the school system’s CEO, Sonja Santelises, to cancel classes, while former-NFL linebacker turned teacher, Aaron Maybin, took to social media posting tweets and pictures that critique the way the school system was handling the low temperatures.

However, in a video on Facebook live, Santelises responded to this criticism by explaining the strain on many of the district’s “outdated” and “poor” heating systems is a result of inadequate funding. But even though close to a third of the schools in the district have reported heating issues – with close to 85 percent of their students eligible for free or reduced lunch – shutting down the district is not an easy decision since many children rely on school for meals.

And although Santelises has suspended classes for the week, the state of the city’s school district may be indicative of Baltimore as a whole. With close to a fourth of their citizens below the poverty line and one of the highest murder rates in the country, one can see that the struggles of this city that is nearly 65 percent black, go past poorly insulated schools.

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Stephen Maturen

Ohio Teen Filmed Himself Having Sex With 14-Year-Old Must Register As A Sex Offender

An Ohio teen must register as a sex offender for the next 25 years for secretly filming himself having sex with a 14-year-old and then showing the sex tape to friends.

The New York Post reports Jeremiah Horton showed four of his friends at North College Hill High School the tape. Those friends then showed others, resulting in Jeremiah's expulsion.

In addition to registering as a Tier 2 second offender, a judge ordered him to spend six months at River City Correctional Center, a rehab facility for nonviolent felony offenders. Horton faced up to three years in a correctional facility.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate, but you did something you shouldn’t have done, obviously,” Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker told the teen. “And there’s a price to pay.”

Charges were filed in December when the 14-year-old girl's mother found the tape and took it to local authorities. Jeremiah was one of four teens prosecuted for his part. While in court, Horton pled guilty and apologized to the victim and her family.

“I’m not proud of what I did,” Horton said.

 

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Pool

Michigan Man Awarded $1.5 Million After Serving 46 Years On A Wrongful Conviction

When Richard Philips was 27-years-old, he was found guilty of dragging a man named Gregory Harris out of his car and shooting him to death. Harris' brother-in-law corroborated the story and told investigators he met with Philips in a local bar to discuss the murder.

Yet despite the statement from the victim's relative, Philips maintained his innocence. It wasn't enough, however, and Philips went onto spend 46 years in prison.

Then in 2010, Richard Polombo came forward and admitted to the killing. It would be another four years before the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan's law school heard Polombo's confession, and another three in legal proceedings before Philips was granted a new trial in 2017.

In March of 2018, Philips was a free man. CNN reports that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has awarded Philips $1.5 million, $50,000 for each year he was imprisoned. The money will not be taxed and Philips won't lose any of it in lawyer fees.

In 1990, Philips began painting to "to stave off loneliness," and began selling his artwork in prison to fellow inmates. The money he made went into purchasing more supplies. Philips' watercolor paintings echoed themes of hope and survival.

Now, at 73 years old, Philips rents a small apartment and hopes to buy a home with his money. For now, he's enjoying life's simple pleasures and along with his new home, he says he also wants a German Shepherd puppy.

"He is pretty well-adjusted. He says that he is not bitter," Gabi Silver, Philips' attorney said.

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Drew Angerer

Facebook Bans Maryland Artist For Turning 'MAGA' Hats Into Klan Hood And Swastika

A Maryland artist says her livelihood is in jeopardy after Facebook banned her page prohibiting her from contacting her followers of upcoming art shows. The offense? Turning Donald Trump's 'MAGA' hats into Ku Klux Klan hoods and Swastikas.

Kate Kretz says she rips apart the well-known red Make America Great Again hat and turns them into other divisive symbols. While speaking with WUSA 9, she said her art is meant to start a dialogue.

"The armband is actually titled, 'Only the Terrorized Own the Right to Name Symbols of Terror,' and so if people are afraid of people that are walking around with MAGA hats because they’re afraid of violence," Kretz said. "It’s not really up to the wearer to say 'oh you shouldn’t feel afraid of me.' "

Kretz said she mostly received positive feedback, but about four or five days after an image of a reimagined Swastika band made from the red MAGA hat appeared, Facebook shut down her page citing it violated community standards. Kretz appealed the decision but says she hasn't heard anything.

The Mount Rainier, Md resident said she buys knock-off MAGA hats for her art. "I wanted to make sure I wasn’t putting any money in [Trump’s] pocket,” Kretz said.

And while she knows art is subjective, as one of the many artists that help to make Facebook, she thinks Facebook should exercise more diplomacy.

"I understand doing things for the greater good," Kretz said. "However, I think artists are a big part of Facebook’s content providers, and they owe us a fair hearing.”

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