Archive for  April 6th 2019

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Senior Des Moines East High School student Alex Liu is a trailblazer.  “I’m a first-generation American and a first-generation college student,” said Liu.

He is also enrolled in AP Computer Science at Central Academy in Des Moines.  “It really makes you think. It’s like learning a new language, except this time it’s through technology and will lead to changes in the future,” he said.

In January, his classmates were encouraged to apply for the Amazon Future Engineer Pathway Scholarship.  On April 2, he found out he became one of the first honorees in the nation with a scholarship of $10,000, renewable for up to four years.  “It’s mind blowing, given the odds.  There’s a lot of people in this country and to think I was one of them, it’s crazy,” Liu said.

Just 100 students who are pursuing a career in computer science were honored, but there’s a good chance no one would have known if it weren’t published recently in the New York Times.  “He’s the perfect kid. Does everything you ask him to do, but he’s not going to tell you much unless you ask,” said Central Academy teacher Scott Schoneberg.

The potential $40,000 scholarship may not even be the most valuable piece.  It comes with a paid internship at Amazon following his freshmen year of college.  “I think working under Amazon will give me a pretty good experience into what the world is like and what I can do,” said Alex.

Alex’s journey began at River Woods Elementary. He then went to Weeks Middle School and this spring he’ll graduate from East High School.  He says Des Moines Public Schools have been a stepping stone to his success.  “They have a lot of good programs that start you off young and continuing on in high school and prepares you for that next big step.”

Alex is used to making a splash.  He is also a four-time state swim meet qualifier.  Alex said, “I also set five school records.” It’s fitting that he’s used to finding his own lane of success.  “I’m making a name for my family. Carving that path to success and securing a bright future for future generations to come.”

Alex will also receive a full academic scholarship to Tufts University in Massachusetts.

DES MOINES, Iowa — After reports of fights, assaults and injured staff, McCombs Middle School is now cracking down on what they say is the cause.

We brought you the story earlier this week of an assault that resulted in injuries to three staffers at McCombs Middle School.

Parents have contacted WHO with their concerns and school staff say they are now taking action.

McCombs detailed possible disciplinary action in an email to parents. In that email sent to all McCombs parents and staff, WHO was criticized for looking into complaints brought to our attention by staff and concerned parents.

Now, McCombs is now taking a harder line on social media harassment. The school now says social media harassment will no longer be tolerated and could face disciplinary action.

But for some parents that isn’t enough.

“I received an email stating there was an assault against an employee,” parent Edith Flores said.

One staffer suffered a bloody nose, and another had broken glasses in that incident Tuesday.

Then Thursday, police were back at the school. According to the police report, a teacher tried to break up a fight between two students and was punched in the stomach. The teacher didn’t think the student meant to punch him, so no charges were filed.

“It just doesn’t seem like this school can get it in control,” Flores said.

That is why some parents want their kids taken out of McCombs.

“I am not happy with it at all, and actually I am may be looking at homeschooling her for the next four years,” parent Angela Lewis said.

Lewis is not alone.

“I don’t like it. I have tried getting him switched, and they do not approve the open enrollment, so he is kind of stuck here,” parent Jayme Gomez said.

Besides cracking down on social media harassment, parents want to know what else the district is doing to cut down on violence.

“It seems like they allow the kids to come right back to school, so there are no consequences for what they are doing,” Lewis said.

According to a 44-page student hand book from the district, guidelines can change at any time without notice. It outlines multiple steps to expel a student.

“Level four are those incidents that become more significant,” Terry Gladfelter, deputy director at Professional Educators of Iowa said.

These are incidents like a threat with a weapon and assault of a staff member resulting in bodily injury.

That’s on a case-by-case basis.

“It’s a matter of following through with integrity that the program is being executed correctly and consistently,” Gladfelter said.

Parents say violence at McCombs needs to stop.

The two students involved in the most recent fight were referred to the juvenile court for disorderly conduct.

We reached out to the Des Moines School Board for comment and have not heard back.

DMPS has yet to agree to an on-camera interview.