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News 12.7.17

7 December 2017 News


A former Ripon High School teacher is accused of having sex with a student. Samantha Fitzpatrick made her initial Fond du Lac court appearance Wednesday on charges of child enticement, sexual assault of a student by school staff, exposing a child to harmful material and obstructing an officer. Bail was set at $1000 cash. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 5. Fitzpatrick is accused of sending sexually explicit text messages and a photo of herself to the 17 year old victim and having sex with the student on multiple occasions. Fitzpatrick was a teacher at Ripon High School last school year until she voluntarily resigned in May after the administration addressed concerns about her unreliable attendance. The charges carry a maximum penalty of more than 30 years in prison and $130,000 in fines.

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Republican leaders of the Wisconsin Legislature have created a bipartisan task force to study school funding in the state. The panel announced Tuesday will hold its first meeting later this month with hearings across the state planned before issuing a report to the Legislature by the end of next year. Lawmakers say it’s the first review of the funding formula in 20 years. The panel will be co-chaired by Sen. Luther Olsen, of Ripon, and Rep. Joel Kitchens, of Sturgeon Bay, both Republicans. There are four other Republicans and three Democrats on the panel. Other members include superintendents of the Green Bay and Grantsburg school districts, the lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, a University of Wisconsin-Madison education policy professor and the business operations director for Messmer Catholic Schools.

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Attorney General Brad Schimel says he would support closing the state’s troubled youth prison if corrections officials could find another way to handle serious juvenile offenders. Schimel said in an interview that Missouri’s juvenile detention system has merit. That state places offenders in smaller facilities typically close to their homes. Schimel says he’s not sure that model would work in Wisconsin since most juvenile offenders are from Milwaukee. He says the real answer is to keep Milwaukee’s children out of the system by addressing their needs early in life. Schimel’s DOJ began investigating allegations of widespread abuse at the prison outside Irma in 2015. The FBI has since taken over the probe. A federal judge this summer ordered guards to reduce the use of solitary confinement and pepper spray.

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Attorney General Brad Schimel says a backlog has developed again at the state crime labs. Schimel says an influx of evidence submissions is to blame. He says submissions have increased 80 percent over the last two years. His predecessor, J.B. Van Hollen, eliminated the backlog by hiring more analysts. Schimel says the Department of Justice is more strictly enforcing submission guidelines and has created 11 temporary lab positions. He says if things don’t improve he’ll ask lawmakers to let him hire more permanent analysts but he wants to try to solve the problem internally first.

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