KENTUCKY
Teachers call out sick to protest pensions

Hundreds of Kentucky teachers called in sick on Friday to protest last-minute changes to their pension system, forcing nearly two dozen districts to close while angry educators rallied to demand Gov. Matt Bevin (R) not sign the bill.

With thunderous chants of “shut it down” echoing throughout the Capitol Rotunda, Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) used a megaphone to announce he would sue to block the bill’s implementation if Bevin signs it into law.

The show of force comes amid growing unrest among public educators nationwide, led by thousands of West Virginia teachers who walked off the job for nine days earlier this year to secure a 5 percent pay raise. Teacher unrest spread to another deep red state in Oklahoma, where the GOP-led legislature approved money for teacher raises and more school funding. Teachers are mulling whether the current offer from lawmakers is enough to avert a work stoppage.

Teachers in Kentucky indicated they did not know what they would do beyond Friday. Much of the state is on spring break next week. Kentucky’s Legislature is scheduled to reconvene Monday.

— Associated Press

IOWA
Court upholds sex charge against teacher

The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday upheld the conviction of a high school teacher who allegedly hugged a student. The teacher says the hug was his only physical contact with the student, but the court found that the hugging amounted to sexual misconduct in light of instant messages that showed she had “become the object of” his sexual desires.

Bradley Wickes, a 38-year-old former Camanche High School social studies teacher, was convicted in 2015 of a charge of sexual exploitation by a school employee and sentenced to five years in prison.

— Associated Press

Judge charged for underwear theft: A New York judge who told police he had "urges" to steal women's underwear pleaded not guilty Friday to a felony burglary charge after breaking into his neighbor's home to steal her underwear, prosecutors said. Robert Cicale, a Suffolk County district court judge, admitted he had broken into the victim's home several times and stolen underwear out of her hamper.

Crews drill at Grand Canyon: Crews are drilling at the bottom of the Grand Canyon to test the idea of shifting the area where water is drawn to serve millions of people at the national park's popular South Rim.

— Associated Press