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Transit agency to pay $1.3M to victim’s mom


Transit agency to pay $1.3M to victim’s mom

OAKLAND, California — A San Francisco Bay area transit agency has agreed to pay $1.3 million to the mother of a 22-year-old unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white transit officer in 2009.

John Burris, the family attorney for Oscar Grant, says Bay Area Rapid Transit reached the settlement with Wanda Johnson last week.

The settlement resolves a $50 million wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit filed by Grant’s family against BART.

Last year the agency agreed to pay $1.5 million to the mother of Grant’s daughter.

Former BART officer Johannes Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting Grant on an Oakland train station platform on New Year’s Day in 2009.

Mehserle was released earlier this month after serving one year in jail.

Civil rights data shows unequal educational access

Federal education officials say schools serving mostly black students are more likely to have inexperienced teachers than those largely serving whites, and few school districts have pre-kindergarten programs targeting low-income students.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the data shows that too many students are not getting access to classes and opportunities needed to be successful.

The information released last week is part of the Civil Rights Data Collection. More than 72,000 schools were surveyed on topics like access to rigorous classes and whether districts have written anti-discrimination policies.

Among the findings: Schools serving mainly black students were twice as likely as those primarily serving white students to have teachers with just a year or two of experience. Also, just 22 percent of districts had a pre-kindergarten program targeting low-income children.

Group in Mass. begins effort to recall mayor

Critics of Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua say they’ll try again to submit recall petitions after their first attempt was thwarted by faulty wording.

The group “It’s Your Right” submitted two petitions with the signatures of 150 registered voters to the city clerk last Thursday. But the petitions contained different wording — one offering a detailed explanation for why Lantigua should be recalled, the other only a brief, two-sentence explanation.

City Clerk William Maloney said the petitions have to be consistent.

The group’s organizer, the Rev. Edwin Rodriguez, told the Eagle Tribune he was disappointed by the setback but plans to return to City Hall to start the process anew.

Lantigua, the state’s first elected Latino mayor, is reportedly the target of a corruption investigation and fundraising probe. He’s also come under fire for police and firefighter layoffs.

Mass. Senate approves anti-human trafficking bill

Pimps and others found guilty of trafficking children for sex or forced labor would face life in prison under a bill passed by the Massachusetts Senate.

The anti-human trafficking bill passed last week increases the penalties for human trafficking and for soliciting a prostitute. Under the proposed law, anyone convicted of trafficking would need to register as a sex offender.

The bill would also consider children and others forced into prostitution victims instead of offenders. It would establish a taskforce to investigate and study ways to prevent trafficking and treat victims.

Human rights advocates and law enforcement officials have pushed for such bill for years.

Massachusetts is one of only three states without anti-human trafficking laws.

The bill now moves to Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk for his signature.

It was sponsored by New Bedford Democratic Sen. Mark Montigny.

AG: Mass. schools should report bullying data

A commission headed by Attorney General Martha Coakley is pressing Massachusetts lawmakers to require all schools collect and report annual bullying data as part of the state’s effort to prevent the harassment of students.

The commission is also recommending that schools acknowledge that some categories of students are particularly vulnerable to harassment and that schools encourage the involvement of parents to stop or resolve incidents of bullying.

The recommendations follow the passage last year of a new state law prohibiting bullying on school property and outlawing cyberbullying through e-mail or social media networks.

The law was prompted by the suicides of two students said to be the victims of intense bullying — 11-year-old Springfield resident Carl Walker-Hoover in 2009 and 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, a recent Irish immigrant who was targeted at South Hadley High School.

Mass. courts roll out new video for jurors

Citizens reporting for jury service in Massachusetts will soon be shown a new orientation video that includes commentary by actual jurors.

The 18-minute video is the state’s first new juror orientation video in almost 25 years. It was scheduled to be shown for the first time to potential jurors last week.  

The video includes an introduction by Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, scenes filmed from courts around the state and commentary by judges and actual jurors.

New jurors will learn historical facts about the trial by jury system and information about typical courtroom events they may encounter.

Last year, nearly 246,000 jurors appeared in courthouses around the state for service.

Associated Press