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Fla. School Reprimanded for Pell Grant Mismanagement, Ohio School Denies Teacher Job

Florida College Forced to Pay Back Pell Grants After Reports of Gross Mismanagement. Florida State College of Jacksonvilleis in hot water after the Department of Education reported that in 2010-11 at least 700 students received the improper grants. The college, which is housed in Jacksonville and boasts an enrollment of 81,730 students, has acknowledged that it may have to pony up as much as $2.8 million thanks to the improper Pell Grants, which were suppposed to go to needy students. Steve Bowers, FSCJ associate vice president of administrative services, said that the school would pay for the penalties by forcing said students to reimburse the money received in grants. “The United States Department of Education does have in their regulations a requirement that we pursue repayment from students,” Bower said. The school plans on hiring real estate attorney Bill Scheu, who previously mediated conflicts between Planned Parenthood and the Christian Coalition in the 1990s, to produce the report on how the Pell Grant issue occurred. Scheu’s report is not to be released until August, and he has said that the college may not like his findings. “They may not like what I say, they may like what I say,” Scheu said. “But I don’t see this as an auditing of these files. It’s going to be more of an institutional look at it so that the public can be assured that the college is back on the right track.” [The Florida Times-Union]

Cincinnati School YanksJob Based on Teacher’s Sexual Identity. A Cincinnati-based Christian school has drawn widespread criticism after revoking a job offer to a teacher after discovering his sexual identity. Despite the fact that Cincinnati includes sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination protections, upon the school has claimed exemption from the rule because of their religious-affiliation. Members of the Human Rights Committee and Equality Cincinnati are calling on members of the CHCA administration and Board of Trustees to review the matter, and to hire the best candidate for job openings, regardless of their sexuality. “The majority of Christians and people of faith believe LGBT people deserve dignity, respect, and equal protections under the law,” HRC President Joe Solmonesse said. “The Cincinnati Hill Christian Academy put Jonathan Zeng through an interview process and concluded he was one of the best people for the job. Jonathan’s sexual orientation should in no way change that assessment.” Solmonesse continued that the school’s decision sends a message that is unfair to the school’s community and students. “This is an injustice to both Jonathan and the CHCA community,” Solmonesse said. “It sends the message to students that there’s something wrong with being gay.” [The Windy City Times]

Texas A&M Student Denied Right to Serve Based on Immigration Status. A graduate student at Texas A&M University had his role as Vice President of Diversity in the school’s student senate revoked, as the student is an undocumented immigrant. The student, Luis Zelaya, who immigrated to America at 14 from Honduras, was supported by most senator members for the post, but failed to get the two-thirds approval necessary. “It’s hard,” Zelaya said. “I was just told by my family that I don’t belong here, that no matter how hard I work, how American I want to be, that I will never be good enough.” Zelaya is among some 300 other undocumented students at the school, and could have become the first to hold the position in the senate. The winner of the election, John Claybook, has reached out to Zelaya, and offered him a chance to be the vice president of diversity at the school, saying Zelaya was more than qualified for the position. Texas A&M’s student paper, “The Battalion” ran a front-page editorial asking the senate to change its decision and revote on the issue. Many, including the school paper has advocated the passage of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or HB 1403, or DREAM Act, was first introduced by Rep. Rick Noriega in 2001. The bill would have permitted immigrants who met specific requirements the opportunity to gain US Citizenship if they entered the military, or attended a two years at a four-year college. The Senate blocked the legislation in 2010, though it is expected to come up in the 2013 legislative session. [The Victoria Advocate]

Christopher Boan is a journalism intern with Campus Progress.

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