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Education

PSAL Sports Season Delayed Indefinitely, New York City Says

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The Department of Education in New York City released its plans for the 2020-21 academic school year and it does not include sports.

What We Know:

  • The Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL), which coordinates interscholastic competition for all New York City Public High Schools, announced August 6th that fall sports will have an indefinite delay to their seasons.
  • In a letter sent to parents and students, the PSAL relayed, “We recognize the importance of sports to our scholar-athletes along with the PSAL community and are working diligently to provide athletics in accordance with all health and safety policies. While we are anxious to reconvene PSAL activities, the health and safety of our athletes is our top priority and sports programming will not return until it is safe to do so.”
  • In regards to when exactly the fall sports seasons will start, PSAL pledges they “will continue to monitor all available information from [their] various governing bodies and associated health experts to determine an appropriate date to resume PSAL activities”.
  • The state’s Health Department guidances do not allow for interscholastic sports due to the current pandemic. In PSAL’s official press release, they noted, “Per CDC guidelines, the associated risk of any sports activity is increased when athletes engage in competitive play across different geographic areas. Therefore, when PSAL activities are permitted to resume, they will be restricted to practice and conditioning until further notice.”
  • PSAL is the second of New York’s four athletic associations to announce delays to sports seasons. Recently, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association made the decision to delay all sports until September 21st, as well as cancel all Fall Championships.

Although Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on the 7th that New York City schools will be allowed to return to in-person instruction, the decision on interscholastic sports is still up in the air.

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Crime

Florida Teacher Charged with 408 Counts of Child Porn Possession

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Courtesy of FOX 13 Tampa Bay

Shawn Fitzgerald, a 46-year-old Florida high school teacher, soccer coach, and church youth leader, has been charged with 408 counts of child pornography possession. Fitzgerald has taught and coached the boy’s soccer team at Lakeland High School since 2014. He was also the youth director at First United Methodist Church in Bartow.

What We Know:

  • Investigators were given a tip from the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children, which lead them to find multiple pornographic images on his cell phone.
  • The images were reportedly hidden in a fake calculator app that also acted as a vault to conceal explicit content.
  • Polk County Sherriff Grady Judd said in a news conference the images found didn’t seem to be locally produced, and it does not appear that Fitzgerald harmed any children himself. But, Judd mentioned more charges might be pending.
  • Amongst the images was a young child proposed to be 10 months old child being sexually abused by adults and engaging in provocative acts with other minors.
  • In a statement with a CBS affiliate, Lakewood High Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd stated, “We are shocked and disgusted by these charges.”

“As educators, we are entrusted with the well-being of our young people every day. It is our sacred duty to set the highest moral example in our schools and our communities. … We are cooperating fully with the investigation to ensure justice is served, and we are in the process of terminating this employee.”

As of Sunday, it is unclear if Fitzgerald sought legal representation. He is currently being held at Polk County Jail and is being held on a $2 million bail.

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Education

Virginia Professor Resigns After Facebook Post Calls Biden Supporters Anti-Christian

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Courtesy Progressive Party

Virginia college educator quit, officials said Monday, after he wrote on social media that President-elect Joe Biden supporters are “ignorant, anti-American and anti-Christian.”

What We Know:

  • Virginia Wesleyan University Campus, a private liberal arts school in Virginia Beach, stated that Paul Ewell, management, business, and economics professor, had quit. He had earlier stepped down as dean of Virginia Wesleyan’s Global Campus.
  • In the now-deleted FB post, Ewell wrote, “If you were ignorant anti-American and anti-Christian enough to vote for Biden, I really don’t want to be your social friend on social media. I wouldn’t hang out with you in real life, I don’t want to hang out with you virtually either. You have corrupted the election. You have corrupted our youth. You have corrupted our country. I have standards, and you don’t meet them. Please remove yourself.”
  • President Donald Trump increased Ewell’s remarks when he retweeted a story about the professor where the “ignorant, anti-American, and anti-Christian” comments were in the original post. The president called the description “Progress!”

  • Ewell stated earlier to Wavy, “I have many Democrat friends, and I want to apologize for saying that I didn’t want to be friends with them and for calling them names,” he told the station. “I am genuinely sorry for letting my anger get the best of me.”
  • Regarding the post, the University issued a statement just days afterward, saying, “These views and opinions are expressly the individual’s own. Civic engagement and religious freedom are at the core of the University’s values, and we remain an inclusive and caring community that empowers meaningful relationships through listening, understanding, and communication.”

Ewell stated to Wavy, he wrote the post in anger and that he regrets that he had set a poor example in that post of what a Christian should be.

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Crime

Ex-Fencing Coach, Telecom CEO Face Charges in $1.5 Million Bribery Scheme to Get Kids into Harvard

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Courtesy of Austin Kirk on Flickr

Peter Brand, the former head fencing coach at Harvard University, and Jie “Jack” Zhao, a telecommunications executive were arrested on Monday in connections to an alleged bribery scheme. According to the federal authorities, both men devised a financial scheme involving Harvard University’s fencing team.

 What We Know:

  • According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Massachusetts, Brand and Zhao are facing charges of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery.
  • Brand allegedly recruited Zhao’s two children into Harvard’s fencing program in exchange for securing admissions. Zhao provided $1.5 million in briberies. Brand’s home in Needham, southwest of Boston, was purchased by Zhao for $1 million which is $440,000 above its accessed value, according to NBC News.
  • According to a criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, 5 months after the sale of Brand’s home, Zhao’s younger son received a letter from Harvard stating he would likely be accepted as a fencing recruit.
  • NBC News reported back in 2015 that Zhao allegedly made multiple payments to Brand covering school loans and tuition at Penn State University. Documents show that Zhao paid for Brand’s water sewer and mortgage bills, and gave him a $34,563 car loan. These payments coincide with the admission of Zhao’s oldest son to Harvard’s fencing program back in 2013.
  • Zhao also contributed $1 million to a fencing charity which then sent $100,000 to a foundation that was recently created by Band and his wife.
  • Brand was fired by Harvard in 2019 after the Boston Globe exposed the purchase of Brand’s home. The athletic director stated Brand violated the university’s conflict of interest policy.
  • On Monday Brand’s lawyer gave a statement describing Zhao’s children as “academic and fencing stars” and mentioned that his client had done nothing wrong.
  • Bill Weinreb, Zhao’s lawyer states that his client continues to deny the charges pending against him and “will vigorously contest them in court”.

Similar to Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman who were caught in the investigation known as Operation Varsity Blues where wealthy parents ensured placement for their children in elite schools. Although the charges against Brand and Zhao have no connection to that investigation, there are similarities.

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