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Education News Top Story

PW exclusive: Former Three Rivers principal describes chaos at charter school, which state plans to close

Don McQueen, operator of Three Rivers Academy, allegedly padded enrollment numbers, paid families so students would attend class, and took other extreme measures to ensure state per-pupil funds kept flowing to the troubled charter school in Bertie County. A former teacher detailed these allegations in an interview with Policy Watch, which were corroborated by a former principal of the school, Hans Lassiter. Lassiter worked at the controversial Bertie County charter school during the first half of the 2020-21 school year.

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Law and the Courts News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Republican U.S. Senate contest among the races impacted by primary date battle

Another potential change in the date of North Carolina’s 2022 primary election, this one initiated by the Republican majorities in the state legislature, is reverberating through races statewide, including the battle for the GOP nomination in the race for Richard Burr's soon-to-be open U.S. Senate seat. On Wednesday, General Assembly leaders fast-tracked a bill through both chambers that shifts the current May 17 primary date to June 7.

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Environment News Top Story

After years of neglect, four of NC’s most polluted Superfund sites funded for clean-up

With American Rescue Plan funds, EPA targets sites in Charlotte, Gastonia, Yadkinville and Jacksonville; here's what neighbors should know A blighted eyesore on Jacksonville's main drag. Contaminated former dry cleaners in suburban Gastonia and far east Charlotte. A vast and abandoned creosote treatment facility that has poisoned the soil, groundwater and nearby streams and a pond.

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COVID-19 News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Legislatures across country back off pandemic protocols

Despite the explosive spread of the omicron variant, many statehouses are attempting to conduct business as usual As Dr. Jennifer Bacani McKenney walked the halls of the Kansas Statehouse on opening day of the legislative session this month, she was taken aback by what she saw. In the hallways, where "people are chatting and hugging and all that stuff, there were probably less than half of the people wearing masks...

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Defending Democracy Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Experts say Black lawmakers are sure to lose seats under new NC legislative maps

Two Black incumbent senators in eastern North Carolina have no chance of winning reelection in their newly drawn districts, according to an analysis by UCLA political scientist Jeffrey B. Lewis, who testified for Republicans in the Superior Court redistricting trial this month. 

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Defending Democracy News Top Story

MLK Day Monday numbers: The battle to preserve American democracy

In the decades since it became a national holiday, Martin Luther King Day has served as a vehicle to lift up a number of causes that Dr. King himself championed – from racial equality to ending poverty to world peace. Today, however, as we mark what would have been MLK’s 93rd birthday, events have rendered all those causes (and many others of great import) secondary to an overriding imperative: the preservation of our democracy.

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Environment

Air testing planned for neighborhood adjacent to contaminated former missile plant in Burlington

Extent of toxic solvents still unknown; new round of testing to begin

Environmental testing could restart as early as next month at a former Army missile plant in East Burlington, the next step in cleaning up widespread contamination that has burdened a Black and Latinx neighborhood for more than 30 years.

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Congress COVID-19 News Top Story

Biden sends medical teams to 6 states, promises more free COVID tests and masks

As infection rates spike across the nation, the President takes emergency action WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the federal government will deploy military medical units to six states to assist hospitals overwhelmed with the recent spike of the omicron coronavirus variant. Starting next week, more than 120 medical personnel — the beginning of a deployment of 1,000 service members — will go to hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan and New Mexico.

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Congress Defending Democracy News Top Story

At MLK alma mater, Biden pitches Senate rule change to safeguard voting rights

President Joe Biden called for an end to the Senate filibuster during a visit to Atlanta’s Morehouse College campus, arguing Senate Democrats can push past GOP opposition now blocking major voting rights legislation. The visit by Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to Atlanta was the latest sign of Georgia’ central role as a battleground state...

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COVID-19 Higher Ed News Top Story

At Appalachian State, students whipsawed over conflicting COVID-19 messages from faculty, administration

Students at Appalachian State University in Boone are getting conflicting messages from faculty and administrators as tensions over the university’s handling of COVID-19 in the spring semester boil over. In an open letter to students sent Sunday evening, Richard Rheingans, a professor in the Department of Sustainable Development, wrote the university is “failing to provide the leadership, guidance and support that students, faculty and the broader community needs.”

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts News Top Story

Election experts: Still more to be done on state, federal elections before 2022 midterms

A panel of experts on election security hosted a conversation on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. Their goal was to provide an update on how election security had been updated or improved since the 2020 election. But really, their hope was to not let history repeat itself.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts News Top Story

Conservative groups target state, local voter registration rolls with multiple lawsuits

North Carolina’s voter rolls are like a refrigerator that needs to be cleared periodically of rotting milk and other items past their expiration date, according to Jason Torchinsky. Torchinsky is a lawyer representing Republican plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to force the state to more regularly maintain its voter rolls. But Jeff Loperfido, an attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice

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Environment News Top Story

Monday numbers: 23 million solar panels will someday die. Should we recycle, reuse or throw away?

There are at least 23.3 million solar panels on utility-scale farms in North Carolina, and some day those panels will sputter out and die. What will become of these panels when they pass?

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts News Top Story

Secret maps revelation, testimony of mathematicians deal blows to GOP defense as NC redistricting trial concludes

Three-judge panel to rule on plaintiffs' claims of illegal gerrymandering next Tuesday The trial on North Carolina redistricting ended with the bombshell that blew a hole in Republican claims of transparency, and included testimony from an array of mathematicians that computer programs could rarely, if ever, reproduce GOP-approved plans.

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Defending Democracy News Top Story

Biden in Jan. 6 speech decries ‘web of lies’ created by Trump about 2020 election

President Joe Biden on Thursday warned of the dangers of a collapse of American democracy, standing in a historic chamber in the U.S. Capitol that was besieged by an angry mob of pro-Trump supporters who attempted to halt the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

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Congress Defending Democracy Law and the Courts News Top Story

Voting rights tops U.S. Senate agenda as Jan. 6 anniversary nears

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday stressed that Democrats are prepared to change Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation — and linked the move to the attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. “The election subversion efforts we’re seeing all across the country today are a direct continuation of Jan. 6,” he said at a press conference, referring to Republican state lawmakers who back legislation that imposes stricter voting requirements on their states, following Trump’s defeat.

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