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Louisiana gets low ranking in child well-being


Michelle Southern reporting.
According to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Louisiana ranks No. 47 in the nation for overall well-being of children. The report was published in the 25th edition of the Kids Count Data book and study co-author Laura Speer says they took into account economic status, education, health, family and community.

"Some of the places where Louisiana is lagging behind other stats is in the education domain," said Speer.

Speer says Louisiana lags the nation in 4th and 8th grade reading and math scores and also has a poor graduation rate. She says they found that 28% of students don't graduate on time compared to the national rate of 19%.

Speer says the lowest ranking in their report is for family and community where Louisiana ranked 48th overall.

"48% of children living in Louisiana are living in a single-parent family," said Speer. "What that means is that there are less resources coming in to the household."

Speer says Louisiana's best ranking was at No. 42 and that was in the health category with indicators including percentage of low-birth weight babies and percentage of children without health insurance.

She says another factor hurting Louisiana's score is the fact that we have one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation.

"That means that the teen is less likely to finish high school which would make it harder for her to get a job and support her child," said Speer.




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Governor's office responds to new suit


The governor's office has responded to the latest legal action over the Common Core debate. A lawsuit filed Tuesday claims Bobby Jindal overstepped his authority when he canceled the testing contract for the Common Core. Jindal's legal counsel, Jimmy Faircloth, says the suit has no legal basis.


"This particular lawsuit was really just a jump into the courts. Number one, prematurely, number two, without any legal basis."
 
A collection of concerned parents and teachers were behind this latest filing. The suit claims the governor does not have the constitutional authority to dictate education policy. but Faircloth says there is no question as to whether Jindal has the authority to influence policy in this case.
 
"The governor has the authority, as the chief executive officer of the state, he has a constitutional obligation to utilize the full power of his office to apply state law. This can influence a great deal of policy on a great deal of subject matters."
 
The lawsuit is seeking to reverse the Jinal administration's decision to use the Division of Administration to cancel a vendor contract to supply Common Core testing. Faircloth says allegations the Jindal miss used his authority are unfounded...
 
"It's only a lawsuit if a public official acts unlawfully. There is nothing unlawful about what the governor is doing here."


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Robert Bond sentenced to 40 years


A 40 year prison sentence has been given to a Bossier City man accused of killing his estranged wife and discarding her remains last November.  In a plea deal, Robert Bond plead guilty to manslaughter instead of going to trial on second-degree murder charges. 
 


 
Bossier Parish District Attorney Schuyler Marvin says his office is happy with the sentence.
 
"I know his family was kind of torn apart by all of this.  But they were very appreciative of our office and the job the police officers did and even stated so in court.  So I think justice was served."
 

46-year-old Annie Bond's charred remains were found in northern Webster Parish on November 18th.  Mr. Bond received the maximum sentence for a manslaughter charge.  Marvin says one of Robert and Annie's sons, Alex, spoke at the sentencing hearing.  He says the young man's speech to the judge was touching.
 
"He said, you know, I've lost my mother.  I know I'm losing my father, today.  So, I'm torn.  He has to be punished.  I know that.  He knows that.  So, it was a very personal, emotional talk for him."
 
Robert Bond spoke at his sentencing hearing and asked the 60 or so family members in attendance to forgive him for what he'd done.  Marvin says he and the family are glad this has come to a conclusion.  He says he's happy that this case was resolved so quickly and cannot praise the work of local law enforcement enough.
 
"The police did an excellent job in recovering Mrs. Bond's remains and having those analyzed and confirming it to be hers.  Some cases take a lot longer than that just for that scientific part of it.  So we were very happy with the time of the police."
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Suit filed agaisnt Jindal in Defense of Common Core


A group of parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards filed a lawsuit today against Governor Jindal. They claim the governor violated his legal authority by using executive orders and contract suspensions to keep schools from using Common Core. New Orleans Representative Walt Leger supports this legal action.
 
"The governor's actions now are problematic, because they create chaos in our schools. School is beginning very shortly and i hope this legal action can allow for some clarity"
 
This pro Common Core lawsuit comes one day after a separate suit, which challenged whether BESE followed state law when it adopted the controversial education standards.

Navis Hill is a parent of a public school student and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed today. Hill says Jindal is playing political games and because of that her fourth grader is preparing for a school year, not knowing what standardized test he'll take.
 
"It's very frustrating to deviate from the plan in the middle of his elementary education."



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Arrest made in UL-Lafayette bomb hoax


Michelle Southern reporting.
Officials say an arrest has been made in the case of the bomb threat last week at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Louisiana State Police Troop I spokesman Brooks David says a multiple agency investigation lead to the arrest of 30-year-old Devin Haywood of Lafayette.

"Through that investigation they determined that he was involved in the planting of the hoax device and an attempted armed robbery," said David.

Haywood is charged federally through the FBI with planting a hoax device and attempted armed robbery according to David.

"The investigation is still active and other charges and other arrests are possible," said David.

David says they believe Haywood called KATC last Wednesday morning saying there was a bomb in a trash can at a park near the UL-Lafayette campus, then minutes later he went to try and rob the MidSouth bank.

"They determined the same person was responsible for both," said David.
 
As a result of the scare, the campus was closed for an entire day.
 
 


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Golden Meadow Police officer arrested for allegedly making meth


Michelle Southern reporting.
The Lafourche Parish Sheriff's office says they've arrested a Golden Meadow Police officer in connection with a methamphetamine investigation. Spokesman Brennan Matherne says they began conducting this investigation in April 2014.

"They learned that Ashely Pollard, a Golden Meadow Police Officer, and his brother, Courtney Pollard, were actively producing methamphetamine for personal use," said Matherne.

Matherne says they also learned the cop's girlfriend, Anna King, was buying products for the meth lab.

He says they brought in Officer Pollard for questioning Monday.

"He admitted to using methamphetamine to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder," said Matherne.

Matherene says investigators found the meth lab at Officer Pollard's and King's home during a search of the residence. He says Golden Meadow Police Chief Reggie Pitre issued a statement indicating Pollard resigned from the department upon his arrest.

"He was obviously sorely disappointed in Pollard's actions," said Matherene.



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LSU football player suffers severe arm injury


An LSU freshman football player is recovering in a hospital today after severely cutting his arm during an incident in the school's weight room. Assistant editor of Tiger Rag magazine, Robert Stewart, says based on what they've been able to gather defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao punched a window at the LSU football facility.

 
(Photo courtesy of Trey's twitter account)
 
"Those windows are very thick, so he had to punch it hard to get it to break," Stewart said. "So no wonder there were reports out there that he actually tore through the muscle of his arm."  
 
The San Antonio native tweeted a picture of himself in a hospital bed with his left arm in a large cast. He also commented on twitter that this has been a learning experience and he's thankful to be alive. Stewart says LSU has not said what led up this incident. 
 
"There were reports out there it was over a girlfriend, maybe a dispute with another football player. That's not been confirmed." 
 
Initial reports said Trey may need to have his arm amputated. LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette says that's not the case, but  Stewart says it appears the six-foot, 300-pound defensive tackle has a long road of recovery ahead of him. 
 
"We don't know what kind of football future Trey is going to have."
 

 

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John Bel Edwards touts gubernatorial candidacy


Amite Representative John Bel Edwards spoke to the Baton Rouge Press Club about why voters should support him for governor next year. Thus far, he is the only declared Democrat in the race.
 


 
Edwards said he's jumping into this race offering a different vision for Louisiana.

"A vision that I think is better.  And I don't believe the people of Louisiana can stand four more years of the types of policies inflicted on them by the Jindal administration."
 
The gubernatorial primary will be held in October of next year.  He feels the next governor needs to be able to build coalitions, try to develop a consensus, and compromise in order to move the state forward. Edwards feels the state needs a governor who will put Louisiana first.
 
"...not himself, or his political ambition.  Not out of state corporate interests, not Washington, D.C. style politics or philosophy.  But put the people of Louisiana first.  That's what I offer."
 
He said Louisiana needs a proven, respected leader in the governor's chair who will govern from the middle because that's where you'll find long-term solutions to the state's problems. Edwards said Democrats, Republicans, and Independents need to be able to communicate with one another to come up with solutions to the problems the Bayou State faces.
 
"Baton Rouge is not Washington, D.C., yet.  We don't need to go there.  We will not be served well if we end up with people of different parties not talking to one another.  Because if you can't talk, you can't find areas of agreement.  You can't common ground."
 
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Suit filed to halt Common Core


Common Core opponents file a lawsuit in an attempt to keep the state from adopting the controversial education standards. 17 state lawmakers are banding together under the name "The Concerned Citizens of Louisiana" to challenge the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's adoption of Common Core on procedural grounds.

Lake Charles Representative Brett Geymann says BESE did not keep the public informed when they adopted Common Core in 2010.

"The reason we filed the court action today is because we believe that the parents and the educations and the public were left out of the process. "
 
Governor Jindal has used executive authority to halt the use of Common Core in Louisiana. Jindal also claims BESE did not follow the law when adopting Common Core. White disagrees with Jindal's assertion and the lawsuit claiming BESE didn't follow state mandated procedures.
 
"So the law says, BESE you have to approve the standards that the department establishes. It dose not say anything about the Administrative Procedures Act."

 


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Mainieri all smiles over new assistant coach and recruiting class


Former Tulane star Andy Cannizaro has been introduced as LSU's new recruiting coordinator and hitting coach. Cannizaro was a standout shortstop for the Tulane Green Wave in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Cannizaro has worked as a scout for the New York Yankees since 2009 and the Mandeville native is pumped up to join the purple and gold. 

"I loved working for the New York Yankees," Cannizaro said. "I felt the expectations and the demands of that organization were greater than an organization in Major League Baseball. Now coming to the college baseball scene, I feel like I'm going to work for the New York Yankees of college baseball."
 
Cannizaro replaces Javi Sanchez, who left LSU earlier this month to pursue a business career. LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri is excited about Cannizaro joining his staff and he's also thrilled with his 2015 recruiting class, which features some power arms and some very good everyday players.
 
"We've been fortunate enough to have the number one ranked class twice in my tenure," Mainieri said. "There's no doubt in my mind that this is another number one recruiting class."
 
LSU has also released its schedule for next season. It all starts with a three-game series against Kansas on February 13th. Mainieri says his team will be challenged right away. 
 
"This maybe the toughest opening series in my nine years here," Mainieri said. "Kansas is a real and upcoming program. They made the NCAA Tournament last season."
 
LSU will also travel to Houston’s Minute Maid Park to play in the Houston College Classic. The three teams they’ll play are Houston, Nebraska, and Baylor. The Tigers SEC schedule begins March 13th at home against Ole Miss. And they’ll play the Ragin Cajuns on Wednesday April 1st in the Wally Pontiff Junior Classic at Zephyr Field in Metairie.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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State lawmaker seeking public input on immigration


The tens of thousands of children crossing over into neighboring Texas is raising concerns Louisiana may face an immigration problem of it's own. Denham Springs Representative Valarie Hodges, a member of the House Committee on Criminal Justice, is calling on the state leadership to develop a plan of action for immigration in Louisiana. She says the crisis next door is spreading to states across the country.

 
 "We have a major crisis that is going on in Texas, but it's not just effecting Texas, its going to effect the rest of the United States."
 
With Texas shelters currently overflowing with the unaccompanied children, Hodges is concerned that Louisiana facilities may be used to house the immigrants. Hodges says she would like citizens to visit her Facebook page and take a survey, to voice their concerns.
 
"A lot of these aliens are being sent to other states. We think that they will be sent here, and i just want to hear the pulse of the people"
 
The tens of thousands of children crossing the border into the US are being driven, in large part, out of their Central American homes by escalating violence related to gang warfare and drugs. Hodges says she is concerned that the immigrants may be brining that violence with them.
 
"There's gang members, there's drug cartels. It's a humanitarian crisis, but what you are seeing in a lot of these pictures is older teenage young men."

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