BESE backs overhaul of La. career-track diploma
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A redesign of Louisiana's career-track diploma has received overwhelming backing from members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Superintendent of Education John White's proposal centers on high school students getting job skills certifications to earn their diploma if they don't intend to go to a four-year university. He says it will better prepare students for available jobs.
A BESE committee agreed to the plans without objection Thursday. Ten of the board's 11 members were present for the vote, in advance of final passage Friday.
All public school districts will have to make the changes by the 2016-17 school year.
Business organizations supported the overhaul, called "Jump Start." Parents of special education students opposed it, saying the changes will make it harder for their children to get a diploma.
Final groups of Louisiana-based soldiers to return
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The last of the 1,200 Louisiana-based soldiers who've been in Afghanistan since last summer are returning home to Fort Polk in the coming days.
Fort Polk spokeswoman Kimberly Reischling says the 4th Brigade Combat Team soldiers have been returning to the U.S. Army post in west-central Louisiana in groups during recent weeks. She said Thursday that the last of them should be home by the weekend.
Nola.com/The Times-Picayune reports the 4th Brigade spent almost nine months advising and helping Afghan soldiers and police in seven provinces north of Kabul, Afghanistan's capital city.
It was the brigade's third Afghanistan deployment since 2007.
Attacking blight in Jefferson Parish
GRETNA, La. (AP) - To fight the eyesores of high grass and safety hazards of abandoned buildings, Jefferson Parish now has a department solely devoted to the task and a new hire to head it.
NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports Catherine Toppel has been appointed interim director of the Department of Property Maintenance Zoning/Quality of Life, an office newly separated from the Department of Inspection and Code Enforcement in an effort to speed the sprucing up of problem properties.
Monday marked the first day for the new department, and Toppel's first day on the job, at $82,000 annually. Her appointment is subject to Parish Council approval, perhaps as early as this month.
Toppel will oversee weed control and the inspection and enforcement of codes regarding private properties.
Rapper Lil' Boosie released from Louisiana prison
ANGOLA, La. (AP) - Rapper Lil' Boosie has been released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, where he had been serving an eight-year sentence on drug charges.
Warden Burl Cain says the 31-year-old rapper - whose real name is Torrence Hatch - left the prison just after 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Cain said Hatch remains on supervised parole until 2018.
Hatch first arrived at Angola in 2009 after pleading guilty to a third-offense marijuana possession charge. Since then, he's faced numerous accusations, including a highly publicized murder trial in the 2009 killing of Terry Boyd. Hatch was acquitted of first-degree murder in Boyd's death in May 2012.
The warden said the time and date of Hatch's release wasn't made public "just to keep everything calm."
Monroe man arrested on video voyeurism charge
MONROE, La. (AP) - A 33-year-old Monroe man has been arrested after his brother was investigated for child pornography.
On Wednesday, The News-Star reports investigators with the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit arrested David Allen Boland on one count of video voyeurism of a juvenile.
The investigation stemmed from a child pornography investigation in January where Kenneth Boland, David Boland's brother, was arrested on charges of child pornography.
During the forensic examination of the evidence in that case, investigators discovered that David Allen Boland had intentionally recorded a juvenile undressing in a bathroom.
It was unclear whether David Boland has an attorney.
Marrero teenager who shot toddler sentenced
GRETNA, La. (AP) - A Marrero teenager who was convicted last month of shooting a 2-year-old boy in the face when opening fire on the child's father has been sentenced to 60 years in prison. Carl Baham must serve the time at hard labor, state District Judge Scott Schlegel said in handing down the punishment on Thursday.
Baham claimed self-defense when he fired his pistol at Byron Matthews Jr. on July 25. The 21-year-old Matthews was preparing to take his two children, 2-year-old Byron Matthews III and 5-month-old Madison Matthews, from the back seat of his car when Baham began shooting.
NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports one of the bullets pierced a rear car door and struck the toddler as he was belted in his seat next to his little sister.
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