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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Middlebury College Disciplines 67 Students for Murray Protests

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 9:11 PM

Professor Allison Stanger with Charles Murray on the live stream
  • Professor Allison Stanger with Charles Murray on the live stream
Middlebury College has disciplined 67 students after its investigation into the disruption of a March 2 lecture by controversial author Charles Murray, the school announced Tuesday.

The sanctions range "from probation to official college discipline, which places a permanent record in the student's file," the school said in a statement.

Murray attempted to lecture in the McCullough Student Center about his 2012 book, Coming Apart. Murray is better known for his 1994 book, The Bell Curve, which sought to correlate social inequality to genetics. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled his work "racist pseudoscience."

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

James Fallows Urges UVM Grads to Be a Force For Good

Posted By on Sun, May 21, 2017 at 2:16 PM

James Fallows gives the commencement address at UVM Sunday morning. - COURTESY UVM/SALLY MCCAY
  • Courtesy UVM/Sally McCay
  • James Fallows gives the commencement address at UVM Sunday morning.
Always vote, consider a run for office and subscribe to a newspaper even if there's a way to finagle a free read.

Those were among the pieces of wisdom that author and Atlantic Monthly national correspondent James Fallows doled out to thousands of students and their families during his commencement address at the University of Vermont Sunday morning.

Oh, and one more thing. "Get in the habit of being happy," Fallows told the UVM class of 2017.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

South Burlington School Board Won't Put 'Rebels' Question on Ballot

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 12:33 AM

Rebels banners at South Burlington High School - OLIVER PARINI
  • Oliver Parini
  • Rebels banners at South Burlington High School
The push to bring the Rebels nickname question to a public vote in South Burlington hit a major roadblock Wednesday night.

Four of five South Burlington School Board members said they would not support a vote on the controversial moniker despite a successful petition drive calling for one.

They said a public vote would represent an abdication of their responsibility as an elected board and that they stood by their decision to dump the name because it has racist connotations that divide the community.

Supporters of the petition drive decried the board's decision and said they might take legal action to pursue a vote.

"I think it was an extremely cowardly move," said Stacey Savage, a leader in the Rebel Alliance, which ran the petition drive, as she walked out of the meeting after the board's decision. "I think there is a tremendous division in the community that they have created."

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Divided South Burlington Tries to Unite With Two Separate Events

Posted By and on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 12:00 AM

People at Wednesday's vigil in South Burlington - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • People at Wednesday's vigil in South Burlington
Community members convened at two separate gatherings a few miles apart in South Burlington Wednesday evening in an attempt to unite after a week fraught with fear and uncertainty.

But the competing events represented the two sides in the often contentious — and racially tinged — debate over the high school’s Rebel nickname. And the gatherings came just days after a South Burlington High School senior’s arrest for allegedly threatening to kill his classmates and teachers, supposedly as retribution for the decision to drop the Rebel name.

One of the groups gathered for a vigil outside city hall with a message of peace and unity, while another showed up at the police station to thank officers for their work as the death threats last week terrified the town.

Organizer Vicki Garrison told the 60-person strong crowd at city hall that the vigil was “an opportunity to start healing, to start a new beginning — together. This gathering represents unity, harmony and peace and I just thank you so much for coming.”

Holding signs that read “unity is in our hands” and “strength in unity,” the crowd listened as speakers urged the school board to stand by its February decision to drop the Rebels name, which some say has racist connotations. The group at times prayed together and sang “We Shall Overcome” in the round.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Final Days at Statehouse Bring New Plans, New Fights — and a Walkout

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 9:02 PM

Gov. Phil Scott talks about teacher health care plans Tuesday at the Statehouse. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Gov. Phil Scott talks about teacher health care plans Tuesday at the Statehouse.
With two weeks to go before the legislature adjourns for the year, political grandstanding and posturing reached new heights Tuesday inside the Vermont Statehouse. Here was the scene.

Tuesday morning:

At a press conference, Gov. Phil Scott urged the legislature to go along with a proposal that first surfaced just last Thursday.

He wanted to negotiate a teacher health care plan on a statewide basis rather than school-district-by-school-district. It would save $26 million a year, said Scott, who wants that cash to spend on other state services.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Digital Forensics Led to Charge Against South Burlington Student

Posted By on Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 6:25 PM

The Rebels scoreboard at South Burlington High School - MOLLY WALSH/SEVEN DAYS
  • Molly Walsh/Seven Days
  • The Rebels scoreboard at South Burlington High School
The student accused of making death threats against South Burlington students and teachers posted news stories about the turmoil on his Facebook page as the drama was unfolding.

He also allegedly put his own name on the "murder list" that was issued with the threats via email and in a video.

Josiah Leach, 18, was arrested Friday night on a federal charge, ending a week of school lockdowns and a district-wide school closure Friday.

He was in jail awaiting arraignment Monday in federal court on a felony charge of knowingly transmitting a threat via interstate commerce. Leach is a senior at South Burlington High School.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

South Burlington Student Charged With Making Death Threats

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 7:16 PM

South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple (left) and South Burlington Schools Superintendent David Young at Friday's press conference. - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple (left) and South Burlington Schools Superintendent David Young at Friday's press conference.
Updated at 9:23 p.m.

Police arrested 18-year-old Josiah Leach, a South Burlington High School student, on Friday in relation to death threats made against staff and other students in the district.

South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple announced the arrest on federal charges at a press conference from the police department shortly after 9 p.m. Authorities had made the arrest just half an hour earlier, he said.

School had been canceled Friday after threats were sent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The school day ended in lockdowns on Wednesday and Thursday.

Leach, according to police, will be held in custody over the weekend until he's arraigned Monday in federal court.

Read the original story below:

Someone threatened South Burlington students and school district staff in a video Friday that included the same "murder list" which prompted a lockdown and school evacuation Thursday.

Superintendent of Schools David Young — along with South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple — confirmed at a 3 p.m. news conference that officials are aware of the video, which had been circulating on social media.

The video threatens specific school staff and students as retribution for the school board's decision to drop the Rebels team nickname. The name change has riled up the community. Critics say the name is racist while its defenders consider it a harmless tradition.

Young explained that the latest threat came in around 4 a.m. Friday and "was a video and essentially repeated a lot of the same information that was shared within the text that was sent previously. The police are continuing very, very aggressive investigation at this time."

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

South Burlington Schools to Be Closed Friday After Repeated Threats

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 8:21 PM

Rebel banners at South Burlington High School - OLIVER PARINI
  • Oliver Parini
  • Rebel banners at South Burlington High School
South Burlington schools will be closed Friday after someone threatened teachers and students alike in an email message sent Thursday.

The district announced the closure Thursday afternoon, hours after the school day ended in a lockdown — for the second day in a row. All students were sent home by bus, even those who normally walk or drive to school, after someone sent an email threatening to kill five teachers and 11 students, WCAX-TV reported.

The email allegedly made reference to the controversial decision to drop the high school's nickname, the Rebels, according to the Burlington Free Press.

"THIS COULD’VE BEEN PREVENTED FROM KEEPING THE REBEL NAME. NOW I’m gonna have to attack you all. I don’t care for my own life as long as you’re all dead!!!!!" the email reads, according to the Free Press.

The name change has stirred up community members. Critics say the Rebel name has racist overtones because it alludes to the Confederate South. Defenders believe the name is innocuous and want to keep it — even though the school board approved a change in February.

The school budget, which includes money to scrub the Rebel name from playing fields, banners and sports jerseys, has twice failed in a vote.

South Burlington schools also went into lockdown Wednesday after threats. Someone emailed threats to the high school and Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School on Tuesday, too, according to WCAX.

A community forum on heroin that was scheduled to be held at the South Burlington High School on Thursday evening was subsequently canceled, police said.

Schools in Essex were locked down and evacuated last week after a threat there. Police later said the incident appeared to be a case of "swatting" — a false report of a crime intended to trigger a massive police response.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

South Burlington Man Arraigned in Rebels Stalking Case

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 3:18 PM

Attorney Bill Norful, left, and Dan Emmons at Vermont Superior Court in Burlington Thursday - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Attorney Bill Norful, left, and Dan Emmons at Vermont Superior Court in Burlington Thursday
A defender of South Burlington High School's "Rebels" nickname pleaded not guilty Thursday to stalking a student who helped lead the push to drop the name.

Dan Emmons denied stalking Isaiah Hines, 18, who is a senior at the school. Hines was at the forefront of the effort to drop the name from sports uniforms and scoreboards on the grounds that it harkens back to the racist history of the Confederacy.

Hines is a student representative to the school board and leader of the Student Diversity Union. Emmons, 43, is a South Burlington parent who opposed the school board vote in February to drop the name. He supports a public vote on the question, which has roiled the community.

According to a three-page police affidavit presented in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington, Emmons confronted Hines at the Goodwill Store & Donation Center in South Burlington, put his hand on his shoulder and told him, "You need to be careful." He also said, "You guys have made a lot of people mad," and "You're shitting in the wrong yard," the affidavit states.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

South Burlington School Budget Voted Down for Second Time

Posted By on Thu, Apr 6, 2017 at 11:03 PM

Sign encouraging voters to defeat budget - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Sign encouraging voters to defeat budget
South Burlington residents on Thursday voted down their school budget for the second time — and by a wide margin of 57 to 43 percent.

The $49.7 million budget had been revised down from the $50.5 million proposal that voters rejected March 7. Officials reported 24 percent of voters turned out for a tally of 1,948-1,474.

The second defeat was rare, if not unheard of, in the suburban district. South Burlington has a history of passing budgets on the first try and it pays some of the highest salaries for public school teachers in the state.

"We've not had this scenario," South Burlington Superintendent of Schools David Young said after the defeat.

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