<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Texas News]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbcdfw.com/feature/texas-news http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Thu, 11 Feb 2016 22:13:57 -0600 Thu, 11 Feb 2016 22:13:57 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Minority Students Visiting A&M Harassed, Told To Go Home]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 20:25:15 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tamu-sign-722.jpg

A group of black and Hispanic high school students visiting Texas A&M University say they were harassed, taunted and told by white students they were not welcome to attend the university, according to Texas Sen. Royce West (D-23rd District).

West's office released a statement Thursday saying two black female high school juniors were part of a larger group touring the campus when they were approached by a white female Texas A&M student who asked the girls if they liked her earrings -- which were replicas of the Confederate flag.

Nearby, a group of white male and female students began harassing the larger group of 60 high school students by using racial epithets and telling them to "go back where you came from."

The group of students, from Dallas' Uplift Hampton Preparatory School, were visiting the campus as part of the school's Road To College at Uplift Education Program.

Jayla Alex-Johnson was one of about 60 juniors touring the campus.

“Some students were really upset about it," said Alex-Johnson.

Standing towards the back of the crowd, she could only hear some yelling. It was not until later that she learned exactly what was being said to her classmates.

“I hope that their attitude changes," Alex-Johnson said. "The way they think, the way they believe in everything.”

“I hope they catch those people and find out who it was and they kick them out of whatever,” said Anna Alvarenga, a parent of a student at Hampton Prep.

According to West, the confrontation was witnessed by TAMU officials accompanying the students. A campus police officer initially said the university students were expressing their First Amendment rights, though a report was made on the incident.

Following their tour, Alex-Johnson said TAMU officials met with students to discuss the incident and assure them that the behavior was not in line with the university's beliefs or ideals.

“They were really sincere," she explained. "And they couldn’t believe what happened, like neither of us could, and they just really apologized and told us that this shouldn’t be happening at their school.”

West said the incident is now being reviewed by executive leadership at the university, including Chancellor John Sharp.

"While high level meetings are taking place among A&M administrative, faculty and student leaders, those meetings need to produce results that say that overt acts of racism will not be tolerated anywhere within the university system," West said. "I expect a response that is swift and similar to those taken at the University of Oklahoma. The students responsible for these reprehensible actions should be strongly disciplined, if not expelled."

West implored action must be taken swiftly or the university runs the risk of damaging its credibility. West added that the university has a history of recruiting minority students from urban schools, has established outreach centers in Dallas and elsewhere and has made scholarship monies available to minority students.

"But actions such as what took place Tuesday can undo whatever good has been done. When those student's stories are told to parents and friends, they could undoubtedly, further the belief that the home of the Aggies has a campus environment that has been hostile to Black students; that is those who are not athletes," West said.

Michael K. Young, president of Texas A&M University, said in a statement released Wednesday he was outraged and tremendously disappointed in the behavior of his students and that "appropriate action will be taken."

"I deeply regret the pain and hurt feelings this incident caused these young students. Be assured that we take such allegations very seriously," Young said in a statement. "While the actions of a few certainly do not represent our institution as a whole, it is the responsibility of all of us to stop any incidents that could be considered hateful or biased-based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or any other factor."

Uplift Education released a statement Thursday afternoon saying they were "proud of our scholars for the grace and composure with which they responded to the college students who chose to engage in a disrespectful and unacceptable manner."

Uplift added they appreciated the swift response from university leadership and that they hope the incident can broaden the national conversation about inclusion and cultural awareness so that everyone can feel safe and welcome.

At this time, the students involved have not been identified by the university.

Uplift Education Statement

NBC 5's Caroline Connolly and Kevin Cokely contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: File – NBC DFW
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<![CDATA[ATPE Pushing Teachers to Get Out, Vote in Elections]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:08:03 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/voting+booth+2.jpg

The Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) launched an education and election advocacy website, TeachtheVote.org, designed to get teachers out of the classroom and into a voting booth on Election Day.

ATPE has also teamed up with more than 10 other education groups in support of a new initiative called TexasEducatorsVote.com.

The sites push administrators to encourage early voting, of any candidate, and to ensure that every employee is given the time during the workday to get to the polls.

"We’re coming together for the first time in an unprecedented way,” ATPE Governmental Relations Director Brock Gregg said. “Our goal is to implore educators and the public to take action. There are about one million active and retired public school educators in Texas. If they all go out and vote, this could have a tremendous positive impact on public education."

ATPE and other groups are asking every superintendent and principal in the state to join TexasEducatorsVote.com to ensure nothing less than the highest education turnout the state has ever seen.

School administrators have the opportunity to promote voter participation by all school employees and send the message that strong voter turnout among education stakeholders will help ensure the future success of our state’s public education system.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gov. Abbott Supports Cross on Patrol Vehicles ]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 16:12:02 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Greg_abbott_announcement.jpg

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott supports Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson’s decision to allow his officer’s to display a cross with a thin blue line on their patrol vehicles.

Abbott sent a brief to Attorney General Ken Paxton Friday saying that he supported Dodson on his decision.

Abbott, the state's former attorney general, said in his brief that the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t prohibit public officials from recognizing their religion.

“To the contrary, the U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized the demographic and historical reality that Americans are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”

Abbott released his statement about the Brewster County crosses when a district attorney serving Brewster County asked Paxton for his opinion on whether the blue cross was allowed. The Governor’s Office agreed with the district attorney that the blue cross was legal and consistent with the First Amendment.

“The Brewster County deputies’ crosses neither establish a religion nor threaten any person’s ability to worship God, or decline to worship God, in his own way,” Abbott wrote. “The symbol of the cross appropriately conveys the solemn respect all Texans should have for the courage and sacrifice of our peace officers.”

To view Abbott’s brief visit http://gov.texas.gov/.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Task Force Wants to Require Depression Screening]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 08:37:45 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Exam+Room+010814.jpg

New U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations call for mandatory screening for depression for everyone over the age of 18.

Texas doctors are encouraged to screen patients for depression, but it’s not required.

"From a national standpoint, to say that we do need to screen this, gives it a little bit extra emphasis,” University of North Texas Health Science Center's Dr. Shanna Combs said.

When it comes to postpartum depression, Texas has a law that sets it apart from other states.

The "Andrea Yates Bill" — named after the Houston mother who admitted to drowning her five children in a bathtub and was diagnosed with postpartum depression — requires doctors to tell pregnant women about postpartum depression.

Some doctors, like Combs, screen all their patients for postpartum depression anyway.

"It’s such a common problem," she said.

Combs said studies show 1 in 7 women will have postpartum depression, and it’s becoming even more common.

"I think the biggest concern in Texas is resources," Combs said. "Having good counseling resources."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>