Gazette Daily News Briefing, October 26


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This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I’m here with your update for Wednesday, October 26.

The sun returns on Wednesday. According to the National Weather Service it should be sunny in the Cedar Rapids area on Wednesday with a high near 57 degrees. On Wednesday night it will be mostly cloudy, with a low of around 37 degrees. A mild wind will calm as the day goes on.

An Independence elementary school principal has been sanctioned by the state for violating Iowa’s law on school seclusion and restraint.

The mother who filed the complaint says her 6-year-old daughter was held in a seclusion room for 12 minutes — not for being violent as the law requires for this drastic measure — but for lying on the floor and refusing to follow directions.

The final order between the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners and Principal Kathryn “Kay” Reidy, says Reidy has agreed to complete 15 in-person hours of “Ethics in Education” and complete a course on seclusion and restraint in education. If she fails to do either of these things in one year, Reidy’s professional license will be suspended, the order states.

Independence Superintendent Russ Reiter said in an email Tuesday that Reidy, an educator for 27 years, was “not directly involved in any recent instances of seclusion,” but as principal “takes responsibility for the actions of students and staff in her building.”

In Iowa, educators may use seclusion or restraint only to prevent “an imminent threat of bodily injury,” to prevent serious property damage or when a student’s actions threaten to disrupt the learning environment, according to new rules enacted in January 2021.

A teen arrested three weeks ago on a drunken driving charge kept driving despite a revoked license and caused a crash Monday night, killing a woman and seriously injuring another, according to police and court records.

Zawadi Christophe, 18, of Cedar Rapids, is charged with one count of homicide by vehicle — OWI, one count of serious injury by vehicle — OWI and one count of driving under suspension, according to a criminal complaint.

Around 9 p.m. Monday, Christophe was driving west in a gray Dodge Journey in the 800 block of First Avenue W, Cedar Rapids police said, when he rear-ended a BMW sport utility vehicle that was also heading west. The crash caused the BMW to veer into oncoming traffic, where it was hit by a Dodge Ram driving the opposite way.

A passenger in the BMW, 77-year-old Judy Hoover of Cedar Rapids, died in the crash. The driver of the BMW, 73-year-old Joanne Swenka of Marion, sustained serious injuries, including a brain bleed, skull fractures, facial fractures, several broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a spinal cord fracture, a pelvis fracture and blood in her abdomen, according to the criminal complaint.

Swenka was transported to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for treatment.

Christophe had his first appearance on the charges in court Tuesday and is being held in the Linn County Correctional Center on a $100,000 cash-only bail.

In new international university rankings out Tuesday comparing an expanding number of research institutions and their scholarly impact across multiple disciplines, both of Iowa’s ranked universities continued to lose ground — with Iowa State University sliding 26 spots.

The University of Iowa fell six spots to No. 180 from last year’s No. 174 — 27 spots below its 2018 ranking at No. 153, according to the U.S. News & World Report list, which is in its ninth year.

ISU’s 26-spot drop — in the same year it left the prestigious research-focused Association of American Universities — took it from No. 237 to No. 263.

To rank universities on a global level, U.S. News used feedback from reputational surveys aggregated from 2018 to 2022 and weighed it alongside papers published from 2016 to 2020 and citations to those papers through June 2022.

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