Teacher Pleads Guilty

In Florida Sex Case

TAMPA -- In a deal that keeps her out of prison, a teacher pleaded guilty Tuesday to having sex with a 14-year-old boy in a classroom and in her home.

Debra Lafave, 25, will serve three years of house arrest to be followed by seven years' probation under the plea deal reached with prosecutors. She pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery.

Lafave apologized during the hearing Tuesday, saying that "I accept full responsibility for my actions."

Lafave is also required to register with the state as a sexual predator and will not be allowed to profit from the sale of her story or personal appearances.

If convicted at a trial, she could have faced up to 15 years in prison on each count.

* NEW YORK -- An unmarried rookie teacher at a Queens parochial school confessed to her principal that she was pregnant -- and was promptly fired for violating "Catholic morality." Now Michelle McCusker, 26, is suing. She says that she was unfairly dismissed just a month into her first full-time job as a pre-kindergarten teacher at St. Rose of Lima. The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a federal discrimination complaint on Monday on McCusker's behalf against the Rockaway Beach school and the Diocese of Brooklyn, charging that McCusker was wrongly removed and that the church's policy unfairly targets women.

* BOSTON -- Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to put a stop to same-sex marriage in Massachusetts said they have gathered almost twice the number of signatures needed to put it on the ballot in 2008. The Massachusetts Family Institute and its online counterpart, VoteOnMarriage.org, said that they will submit more than 120,000 signatures before Wednesday's 5 p.m. deadline. The measure needs the support of 65,825 registered voters to make it on the ballot.

* AUSTIN -- The Texas Supreme Court declared that the property tax system that supports the state's public schools is unconstitutional, and it gave the Legislature until June 1 to come up with a new way to pay for education. Texas lawmakers have been struggling with the question of school finances for more than a decade, and the latest ruling adds urgency to the dispute. Money for the $30 billion Texas school system comes primarily from local property taxes and franchise taxes. But both rich and poor school districts contend that the system is unfair.

-- From News Services