Teachers accused of swearing at autistic kindergartners won’t be criminally charged

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Criminal charges won’t be filed against two teachers who parents accused of swearing at and physically abusing autistic kindergartners.

Cursing, the sound of slapping and the young students’ screams and cries can be heard on a recording of the Pembroke Pines elementary school teacher and a teacher’s aide, a police report says.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office said the case was not formally presented by law enforcement, although the police department consulted with prosecutors during their investigation.

“It is our understanding that the police department closed the case after reviewing all of the evidence, including several hours of video footage,” said spokeswoman Paula McMahon, and prosecutors agreed with the police department’s decision.

The teacher was identified by parents as Tahisha-Ann Brown. The union confirmed her teacher’s aide was Joyce Latricia Bradley.

After one of the students swore at home, his parents sent him to school with a recording device attached to his backpack. They sent their findings to authorities, which included a recording of the teachers allegedly lashing out at students, many of whom have trouble communicating.

The “authenticity” of the audio had never been verified and “it doesn’t prove the teachers cursed at children — they could have been talking to each other,” said Anne Fusco, the teachers union president. “They didn’t do anything wrong.”

In May when the allegations surfaced, Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie met with the parents of seven children in the Pasadena Lakes Elementary classroom where the two educators allegedly verbally and physically mistreated their special-needs students.

Runcie vowed at that meeting that the teacher and the aide would never work in Broward County again, parents said. Both were reassigned from the school and away from students, a school district spokeswoman said in May.

A school district spokeswoman could not immediately confirm their employment status Wednesday.

— Sun Sentinel

Bikini-clad baristas must cover up, federal appeals court says

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld two city ordinances in Washington state requiring bikini-clad baristas to wear more clothing.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals represented a victory for cities in their efforts to curb businesses that use scantily dressed female employees to attract customers.

The ruling by the San Francisco-based court came in a case brought by Hillbilly Hotties, a bikini barista chain, and several female employees.

They sued the city of Everett, Wash., over two ordinances passed in 2017 requiring workers at coffee stands and similar establishments to cover up.

A district judge blocked the laws on constitutional grounds, ruling that the ordinances were vague and violated free speech rights.

In lifting the injunction Wednesday, the 9th Circuit said the dress-code and lewd-conduct laws were sufficiently clear and that any message of female empowerment the women intended to send would be lost on their customers.

Bikini barista stands have operated in and around Everett since at least 2009, the court said.

The women’s “attire is significantly more revealing than a typical bikini,” the court noted, because some employees wear little more than pasties over their breasts and G-strings.

After receiving nearly 40 complaints, Everett, located north of Seattle, passed the ordinances, which apply to coffee stands, fast-food restaurants, delis, food trucks, coffee shops and drive-thru businesses.

The baristas who challenged the laws argued they were so vague that they would be difficult to enforce.

Disagreeing, the 9th Circuit wrote: “All an officer must determine is whether the upper body (specifically, the breast/pectorals, stomach, back below the shoulder blades) and lower body (the buttocks, top three inches of legs below the buttocks, pubic area and genitals) are covered.”

“A person of ordinary intelligence reading the ordinance in its entirety will be adequately informed about what body areas cannot be exposed or displayed,” Judge Morgan Christen, an Obama appointee, wrote for the panel.

The court also found that wearing G-strings and pasties did not amount to conduct protected by the First Amendment in the context of retail establishments whose employees are in close contact with the public.

The challengers had argued that they were sending a message of female empowerment and confidence by working nearly naked.

— Los Angeles Times

Trump’s ‘AJ From Texas’ is not who he seems

A new Facebook ad for President Donald Trump features a Latino man who looks straight into the camera lens while a voice in the background says, “President Trump, although I’m a lifelong Democrat, I sincerely believe that a nation must secure its borders.”

The video, paid for by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, labels the man as “AJ From Texas” and features a survey question at the end asking viewers, “Do you agree with AJ that the nation must secure the border?”

But, as journalist Judd Legum of the website Popular Information first reported last week, “AJ From Texas” is not who he seems.

He’s actually a model in stock video footage available for purchase on Getty Images’ website, iStock. The footage is available with the search term “Mature Man Portrait” and comes with keywords attached to it, like “serious” and “Latin American and Hispanic Ethnicity.

The 20-second video includes a fine-print disclaimer that flashes on and then off the screen: “Actual testimonial, actor portrayal.” Campaigns have been known to use stock footage in their ads from time to time, but many on Twitter called Trump out for using stock images.

Joining “AJ From Texas” in separate videos is a young woman walking along a beach — “Tracey From Florida” — and a bearded man at a coffee shop — “Thomas From Washington” — both of whom offer glowing testimonials for the president and appear to be pulled from stock footage.

The Trump Make America Great Again Committee has been aggressively spending on Facebook ads, with more than $2.7 million in buys in the last 90 days, according to a Facebook database. That’s far ahead of Biden for President and Bernie 2020, which have spent $1.7 million and $1.1 million on Facebook ads, respectively, over the same time period.

— Austin American-Statesman