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Monday
May072018

A form of 'ecstasy' could be a new treatment for post-traumatic stress

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A form of ecstasy, the illegal club drug known for its a euphoric high, may be able to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder. The pure chemical form of the drug, known as MDMA, is showing potential for therapy.

Approximately 7 percent of people in the United States will suffer from PTSD during their lifetimes, according to the National Co-Morbidity Survey published by Harvard Medical School.

Most patients improve with therapy, anti-depressant medications and time -- but some will be unable to shake it, continually having nightmares or flashbacks, persistently reliving a horrible traumatic event. These patients often suffer symptoms so severe, triggering anxiety or depression, interfering with sleep or concentration, that they live with dramatic changes in mood or behavior.

Can MDMA help?

The results of a Phase 2 FDA trial, published Tuesday in The Lancet Psychiatry, looked at patients with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder who were dosed with MDMA for therapy. Phase 2 means it is still in the research phase and more studies will need to be done before it would be available for widespread use. But here is what the researchinger were they’re trying to do.

What is MDMA? How does it work with therapy?

The active ingredient in the recreational drug also known as "ecstasy" or "molly" is MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Initially described in 1912, it became popular as a recreational drug in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1985, MDMA was labeled "Schedule 1," meaning no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

MDMA alters mood and perception by working on the brain cells that secrete the chemical serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep and sensitivity to pain. MDMA is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens and is illegal in most countries.

But mental health researchers wondered if MDMA could help treat a number of mental health conditions; there’s research dating back into the 1970s testing its therapeutic potential.

Dr. Michael Mithoefer, M.D., a psychiatrist in Charleston, South Carolina who researches MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, describes MDMA as "unique among drugs that decrease anxiety in that it isn’t sedating and doesn’t impair memory."

"People have clear recall of trauma without being overwhelmed by emotions or dissociating and being emotionally numb," he said. "Our model is that MDMA is acting as a catalyst to the psychotherapeutic process, not as a stand-along drug."

MAPS, a private non-profit research group that is helping organize many of the FDA trials, argues MDMA should be considered separately from ecstasy or molly, the often impure street formulations.

What could MDMA treat?

There is certainly interest, but the FDA has approved clinical trials only for limited conditions: Chronic PTSD, severe anxiety related to autism and terminal illness among them. Most of the studies are surrounding PTSD.

MDMA is an optimal choice for use in PTSD treatment, Mithoefer notes, because of “PTSD involves prominent fear responses and the fact that MDMA decreases fear by decreasing activity in the amygdala and increasing activity in prefrontal cortex."

The initial results from Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials are promising –- these are the stages of research which provide the FDA with basic safety data and information about dosing.

In the next stage that begins this summer in 16 sites, Phase 3, researchers can learn more about whether MDMA is effective. European trials are expected in the next year, as well. They expect that positive results in Phase 3 could lead to MDMA being approved for doctors to prescribe.

Researchers warn against self-treatment with street drugs

For most patients, standard treatments for PTSD will work. The patients enrolled in these clinical trials are the most severe cases, often having failed standard therapy or anti-depressant medications. Also, these researchers are studying MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, not MDMA alone.

The therapy couples the medicine with close supervision by medical providers. Mithoefer, who has conducted many studies on MDMA-assisted therapy, notes patients “should know that like any other drug, MDMA has risks as well as benefits, and our participants were carefully screened for medical problems and had considerable psychological support, including preparation and follow-up.”

The DEA still considers MDMA a Schedule I drug, meaning it is against the law to possess or distribute it.

MDMA has stimulant properties and has prominent side effects: sweating, muscle cramping, tremors, increased muscle tension, hyperthermia, an increase in heart rate, and increase in blood pressure. It may result in severe dehydration resulting in damage to the kidneys.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse warns that street formulations confiscated by police initially reported as “pure” MDMA have been mixed with other agents such as cocaine, methamphetamine or bath salts, which can have extremely dangerous side effects and symptoms.

What about Ketamine treating PTSD or depression?

Ketamine and MDMA are different drugs. Both agents have been used as recreational agents, though Ketamine is a “Schedule III” agent, according to the DEA, meaning it is a drug with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.

Separate research efforts are exploring ketamine for several mental health disorders, including depression and PTSD. While some providers have adopted ketamine in treating mental health disorders, it is an “off-label” use, as the FDA has only approved Ketamine for anesthesia purposes.

This article was written by David J. Kim, MD, a final year Emergency Medicine resident at the University of California, Los Angeles, who works with the ABC News Medical Unit in New York.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May072018

Every bride-to-be's must-have skincare guide

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Many brides -- future-royal Meghan Markle, included -- begin wedding planning months in advance to make sure their big day is picture perfect.

But what should they do to make sure their skin looks flawless, too?

"Good Morning America" spoke to dermatologist Whitney Bowe and celebrity facialists Joanna Vargas and Sonya Dakar to get tips and tricks to nailing the perfect complexion.

1. Begin prepping at least months out: Bowe, Vargas and Dakar all advise brides-to-be (or anybody who's looking forward to a big event!) to begin their skin prep well in advance.

"In the months prior to your wedding day, I recommend introducing a retinol product into your skincare routine in order to even out tone and texture and to keep breakouts at bay," Bowe said. "The key is to begin slowly. You want to start using this type of product just twice a week, building up to every other night, and then ultimately every night, IF your skin can tolerate it. One of my favorite products is dermalogica’s Overnight Retinol Repair."

A skin-brightening serum with Vitamin C is also a good addition to one's skincare routine, she added. Vargas said a month out, some brides-to-be may want to consider a deep pore cleansing to make sure the skin is smooth for the wedding.

"Having one four weeks out will give the skin time to heal. I would follow with an LED light bed session so the pores start to shrink and you can get the skin even toned and perfect for the big day," she said. "Three weeks out, the bride should have the first of three [de-puffing] micro-current facials. Two weeks before the wedding, I would do a LED Light treatment plus oxygen. LED works in a series. The more you do, the more the pores shrink and the better your skin looks. The oxygen is awesome for bringing a great glow to the skin, which is so important with all the stress and pollution we subject it to."

Vargas added that a few days before the wedding is a good time to do another micro-current facial, like her Triple Crown Facial.

"As much as you should avoid it, many brides end up trying to manage stress with wine this last week, which leads to puffiness," Vargas explained. "Microcurrent will make you look de-puffed. It will make your cheekbones high and your jaw and neck really perfect for pictures. This is my favorite facial to give to anyone before a big day like a wedding or red carpet."

The day of, Vargas and Dakar both suggest using exfoliating products like their exfoliating mask and Flash Facial.

"Once the top layer of dead skin is sloughed off, the new skin revealed is so smooth and soft that makeup will easily glide on and sit perfectly all night," Dakar said. "It really creates the perfect canvas for your makeup."

Vargas also recommends using something like her daily Serum under makeup to oxygenate the skin and providing "a rosy glow." Bowe added that some women may want to try using a sheet mask as "a rapid-fire way of trapping moisture into the skin."

But be careful not to overdo it: "They can lead to breakouts in acne-prone skin," Bowe said.

2. Stop experimenting at the two-week mark: Two weeks before the event, Bowe said women should be in "maintenance mode," and the focus should be on hydration. This not the time to start experimenting with new products, she added.

"It can also take up to 14 days to show signs of an allergy to a fragrance or preservative," she said. "I’ve received panicked calls from brides-to-be who started a brand new product two weeks prior to their wedding, only to wake up to itchy red bumps all over their skin on the day of the event because they are allergic to one of the ingredients in that new product but the rash took close to two weeks to come out!"

3. Nourish your skin from the inside out: Bowe recommends a diet rich in antioxidants to keep skin looking healthy and fresh. Vitamin C (found in oranges, red peppers, kale, and broccoli), lycopene (found in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit), polyphenols (found in green tea, dark chocolate, and blackberries), zinc (found in meat, beans, nuts and whole grains) and vitamin E (found in spinach, almonds, sweet potato and avocado) are among the most important ones to have. She also warns to stay away from foods that are processed or high in sugar.

4. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate: "Exfoliation is my secret weapon to having great skin. It's the most often skipped step in people's home routine but it really makes a huge difference in the way your skin looks and feels," Vargas said. "Think of exfoliation as your way of creating a perfect canvas for your products and your makeup. You could be investing in the most expensive amazing skin care products at home, but if you don't exfoliate, those ingredients won't ever penetrate to make any difference at all."

One way to incorporate exfoliation into one's routine is to begin dry brushing right before showering, she added.

"It's actually incredible as a cellulite treatment and increases elasticity," she gushed.

“You can exfoliate your skin twice a week, but the way you exfoliate your face, neck and chest should be much gentler than the way you exfoliate your body, especially those rough spots such as the elbows, knees, and soles of your feet," Bowe added in her new book: "The Beauty of Dirty Skin: The Surprising Science of Looking and Feeling Radiant from the Inside Out." "While a DIY sugar scrub is too harsh for most people’s faces, I love this kind of scrub for the extra-thick areas of skin on your body. My favorite recipe is made with two ingredients: brown sugar and almond oil. Simply mix ½ cup of brown sugar with ½ cup of almond oil and apply it to those rough spots with your hands. Rub gently in a circular motion for a minute or two. Then rinse and pat dry before moisturizing!”

5. Try an at-home facial massage: Markle relies on facialist Nichola Joss's facial massage to keep her skin looking its best, and Vargas said there's a reason why.

"Lymphatic drainage massage is a lost art and certainly a tool that anyone can use to make the face look rejuvenated and glowing," she said. "For dry skin, massage the skin in circular motions upward. Start at the base of the neck on the sides where your arteries are. Massage in gentle circles upwards, towards the jaw, up the sides of the face and around the eyes. This will help coax nutrients into the tissue. You want to do the opposite motion and start on the top of the face by the eyes if you are prone to breakouts -– this will draw the waste away."

6. Don't pick at blemishes: If a breakout hits in the days or weeks before, resist the urge to pick, Bowe said.

"Instead, visit your dermatologist for a quick injection of cortisone! Your zit will go down within hours. I have saved many a bride’s flawless glow with this technique!" she said.

Vargas added that an exfoliating mask the day before can work wonders.

"It will bring down the inflammation so you can cover the red mark with a bit of makeup," she said. "Another quick fix for a pimple is to dab a bit of yogurt onto it. The lactic acid along with the probiotics will calm and heal it fast!"

7. Slather on the sunscreen
: Bowe wrote in her new book that in addition to being bad for one's health, skipping sunscreen can lead to skin damage that can make overall tone uneven.

And even then, "sunscreen alone isn’t enough," she continued. "I always pack a floppy sun hat and stay out of the sun between the hours of 12 and 2 and I am a big fan of UPF swimwear and cover-ups!"

Dakar, who makes her own brand of sunscreen, advises against wearing sports bras or swimsuits that might lead to tan lines.

For those brides-to-be who do want a tan for her wedding, all three experts suggested going for a spray tan. Bowe added that it's important to stick with tried and true products or to leave it to a professional.

"The tan will often look more even and polished," Dakar explained.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May072018

Woman flying to Cleveland Clinic saved midflight by Clinic doctor after allergic reaction

WEWS(CLEVELAND) -- Ashley Spencer boarded an American Airlines flight Sunday hoping a doctor from the Cleveland Clinic could treat her serious illness. She just never expected it to happen midflight.

Spencer, a Philadelphia native, boarded her flight to Cleveland Saturday seeking treatment for eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA), an extremely rare autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in a person's blood vessels. Instead, it was her severe peanut allergy that almost cost her life.

The 28-year-old had eaten a bag of chips before boarding her flight that she believes triggered an allergic reaction, she said in an interview with Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS.

Once on board the plane, Spencer passed out and started to go into anaphylactic shock. Spencer said she stopped breathing, but did she have a pulse.

Flight attendants asked if there were any medical professionals on the flight, and Dr. Erich Kiehl stepped up. The electrophysiology fellow -- who just happens to be employed by the Cleveland Clinic -- injected Spencer with an EpiPen four times, according to WEWS. A doctor from North Carolina who was on the plane also helped, Spencer said.

"When a person is going into anaphylactic shock it has to be taken seriously," she said. "Having Dr. Kiehl on board was so important. He was monitoring the heart completely."

Spencer told WEWS her heart is already weak due to her autoimmune disease and having a doctor on board to monitor her vitals may have saved her life.

"I am beyond thankful," she said. "I could have died up there."

The plane ended up making an emergency landing in Pittsburgh, where Spencer was rushed to the hospital. She spent the night in the ICU, according to WEWS.

She will make her Cleveland Clinic appointment where she hopes to discuss enrolling in a clinical trial to treat EGPA.

Spencer said she hopes to meet up with Kiehl at the Cleveland Clinic when she makes her appointment Monday.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May072018

One millennial mom's foster-to-adoption journey

Mary Beth LaRue(SILVERLAKE, Calif) -- "He is supposed to be my first child."

For 34-year-old Mary Beth LaRue of Silverlake, California, and her foster son, 'Baby A,' this Mother's Day will be both of their firsts.

LaRue and her husband Matt Aporta came to the idea of adoption after finding out last May that IVF would have a 3 percent chance of success. "It just didn't speak to me," she said.

Foster-to-adoption was a road they were not previously aware of.

LaRue, who is a yoga instructor, knew that one of her students was a foster-to-adopt attorney. She inquired about what that meant, and upon learning more, "every doubt I had about these kids was gone. Matt had the exact same feeling."

A whirlwind of meetings, training and paperwork followed. The final paper was signed on December 12, 2017.

One week later, the call came. "We found out about Baby A. We took the car seat out of the box and drove to the hospital. That's how we became parents."

Mary Beth LaRue and her husband Matt Aporta are foster-to-adopt parents to Baby A.
In its simplest terms, LaRue said, foster-to-adopt is pairing children in foster care with parents who want to become their adoptive parents. The intention is to reduce the number of homes children are moved between in order to provide the most stable environment possible. Birth parents are checked in on periodically to see whether reunification is a possibility.

For LaRue, the fear of not having Baby A in her life is real. But the potential heartache is worth it, she said.

"With every negative pregnancy test there was sadness. Now there is a child in my home actively loving. When we parent we step into the fire, step in knowing there's a ton of uncertainty. But there's absolutely nothing we would change.

LaRue wants to destigmatize what it means to foster-to-adopt. "The questions people ask, the things they say to foster parents. 'Are their drugs involved? Why is he in foster care?' That's private. These are moms and kids. We're going through the same stuff, with some extra layers."

LaRue told 'GMA' that the only way to change the system is to go into it.

"I can't unlearn what I know," she said.

Baby A, who LaRue said has "big brown eyes and the sweetest disposition" is almost five months old and just starting to giggle.

LaRue admits there's uncertainty in the family's situation, but that it has forced her to live in the present. "When I take him to the park, I'm just so content to be at the park. I wasn't always like that. Seeing him brings me so much joy, the uncertainty dissolves."

The couple, who have "amazing friends and an English bulldog named Rosie" love to explore Los Angeles and have been active volunteering with the city's homeless community. "I'd say what we have in common is our hearts. We both have big hearts."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May072018

Transgender man on celebrating Mother’s Day: The kids ‘still call me mom’

Ashley Darling(NEW BALTIMORE, Mich.) -- Eric Maison, a parent of five who transitioned from female to male alongside his transgender daughter, is sharing how he and his family will celebrate Mother's Day this year.

"The kids do still call me 'Mom,' but sometimes they joke and say 'Daddy Mom,' or 'Mommy Dad,' which I think is absolutely adorable," Maison of New Baltimore, Michigan, told ABC News last week.

"Ellen, my 10-year-old, asked me if instead of Mother's Day, would I prefer to celebrate Father's Day," Maison added. "I said to her that I will always be her mother, a title which I am honored to have, and that I would love to still celebrate Mother's Day if she was OK with that. She smiled and said, 'Well, duh, I just wanted to make sure you were OK with it.'"

"I have the best kids in the world, I really do," Maison said.

Maison, 40, began socially transitioning to become male in the fall of 2015, after his daughter Corey, 16, started her hormone treatment to become female, Maison told ABC News in 2017. Maison, whose medical transition began in 2016, said that his daughter's bravery inspired him to come out as transgender.

He said he is currently 25 months into hormone replacement therapy and had top surgery Feb. 21, 2017.

In June 2016, ABC News spoke with Maison and daughter Corey to share the story about the transgender teen and her message against bullying.

Corey, then 14, was born with that name but was assigned male sex at birth. Corey has been identifying as female since she was 2 years old, Maison said in 2016. Corey said she was inspired by transgender activist Jazz Jennings and saw a therapist who helped her transition from a boy to a girl. Jennings, who was assigned male sex at birth, stars in the TLC reality TV series, "I Am Jazz," which documents her life as a transgender youth.

Corey is now two and a half years into hormone replacement therapy and hopes to have bottom surgery as soon as she is cleared by her doctors and mental health professionals to fully complete her transition, Maison said.

Corey told ABC News that she was always close to her mom, but that they are now "even closer" since the two have been transitioning together.

"It has been awesome," she said. "I know that I'm not alone, and he understands what I am going through, especially when I am having a rough day, or I if am really upset about something, he is always there."

In 2007, Eric Maison, then Erica, married husband Les Maison. The pair have five children: Chelsea, 24, Corey, 16, Kailee, 15, Ellen, 10, and Willow, 7.

Les Maison said that at first, Eric Maison coming out as transgender was a surprise to him. Later, Les Maison said he was glad that Eric would finally get to live his life as who he wanted to be.

"It has been great watching him finally find himself and be free to live his authentic truth," Les Maison wrote to ABC News last week. "He knows I will always be there right beside him through everything, not just transitioning. When I said 'I do,' I meant it until I die. No matter what life throws at us, we will face it together until the very end."

Les Maison went on to say that both Eric and his daughter Corey have "grown into their own skin."

"They are both much happier, and that happiness pours over into the rest of the family," Les Maison said. "Sure we still have our differences, but in the end we always work things out. That's what family is supposed to do."

This year for Mother's Day, the Maison children will be celebrating Mother's Day with a brunch just as they've done years prior.

"That is, unless the kids and Les have been being sneaky and have something special they plan to surprise me with," Eric Maison said. "In our family you just never know. We love to surprise each other and just have as much fun in life as we possibly can."

As for his advice to other nontraditional families, Eric Maison suggests that people do "what's best for their family" and "don't worry about what others think."

"The only people who matter are your loved ones," he said. "Also, for anyone out there struggling to accept someone they know or care about being trans, just remember to always love and respect them. You don't have to understand what they are going through to have compassion. Kindness goes a very long way for someone having an internal battle within themselves, and acceptance can mean the world to them."

Corey said, "We still celebrate my mom."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
May052018

Extremely rare eye cancer affects dozens of people in North Carolina and Auburn, leaving medical professionals curious

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) – Ocular melanoma typically affects six out of every one million people, but dozens from North Carolina and Alabama have recently come down with the disease.

At Auburn University, 36 graduates were diagnosed, along with 18 patients from Huntersville, North Carolina.

It is unclear if there is any type of connection between those diagnosed with the disease in either location, and the Alabama Department of health stated it is “premature to determine that a cancer cluster exists in the area [Auburn]."

Ocular melanoma, like skin, affects the cells that produce melanin, which gives skin its color. Eyes consist of the same type of cells, but is difficult to identify this type of cancer.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
May052018

Wisconsin man eats 30,000th Big Mac burger, setting a new world record

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wisconsin man Don Gorske tasted his first McDonald's Big Mac in 1972, but he calls the most recent sandwich he consumed a "biggie."

Gorske ate his 30,000th Big Mac Friday, setting a new world record for "Most Big Macs consumed." McDonald's promoted Gorske's feat, hosting Gorske at the restaurant before he made history.

Gorske, a 64-year-old retired prison guard, called the moment, "Something I have been looking forward to."

The Guinness Book of World Records came to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin to record Gorske eating his 29,482nd Big Mac in October, broadcasting it on Facebook.

Gorske additionally claims at his last medical check-up, his cholesterol was "low" and his blood pressure was "perfect."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
May052018

Eating fast food hurts women's chances of getting pregnant, study shows

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Women who want to get pregnant should put down the hamburger and fries, new research suggests.

Women who eat fast food regularly are more likely to have trouble conceiving, according to a study published in Human Reproduction.

A survey of nearly 5,600 women in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Ireland found that those who ate fast food four times or more a week took almost a month longer to get pregnant than those who ate it sparingly or not at all.

And women who had eaten fruit less than one to three times a month took half a month longer to become pregnant than those who had eaten it three or more times a day.

This suggests that a good diet boosts the changes of conceiving, according to researchers.

The women were asked about what they had eaten in the month before becoming pregnant with their first child. A limitation of this study is that it relies on women’s recollection of their pre-pregnancy diet.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
May042018

Would you confront your child's bully? Why one mom is facing epic backlash

iStock/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- Would you call out your child's bully?

A mother from Pennsylvania is fighting to regain privileges at her son's school after she was banned by the district for confronting her child's alleged bully on the school bus.

Tammy Aikins, a mom of two, said that last Aug. 28th, on the second day of school, her younger son Carson, then-5, was crying on the floor of the school bus as it arrived to drop him off at home.

Aikins said she asked the driver if she could get on the bus, a request that she said was granted.

"The mommy in me came out - right, wrong or indifferent," Aikins told ABC News. "It was not this elaborate plan. It was a split-second decision. He authorized me to get on the bus and I said, 'Is it that the kid, there?'"

Aikins said that Carson told her he was a victim of name-calling and physical violence on the first day of school as well, by the same child.

Aikins said she never went beyond the bus stairwell or approached the child, but rather shouted to the back of the bus where the child was sitting, to tell him to stop bullying her son.

"You - look at me," Aikins said she told the child. "I'm his mom. I will not have you bully my 5-year-old son. You know what you did."

"I'm not doing it. I hope everybody hears me. I'm not doing it this year," she said she told the child, referring to previous efforts the year before that she had made to prevent the bullying of her son.

Aikins says that the same day she addressed the child, she went to the school principal to report the alleged behavior. The principal told her that the problem would be addressed, though Aikins claims that didn't happen.

"I was instantly upset because last year, it ended with my son Tyler being bullied," Aikins said. "I said, 'I can't do this again. Emotionally, I don't have it in me."

Mom speaks out on preschool's decision to 'dissuade' students from using term 'best friend'

"The principal should've done [her] job and I would've never been in that position," she continued. "But being that they have failed my children on numerous occasions, I needed to make it [apparent] to my children that I will always have their backs."

A five-page letter that Aikins' attorney sent to the Gateway School District lawyer charges that Aikins was banned from her son's elementary school classroom, field trips and stripped of her role as a homeroom mom after the bus incident. The bans are still in place, Aikins said.

The letter, which was obtained by ABC News, contends that Aikins received permission from the bus driver to enter the bus and that she never used profanity.

In a response letter, also obtained by ABC News, district superintendent William Short disputes that Aikins received permission to board the bus, saying that bus surveillance video and audio reveals "no indication of permission being asked or received."

"The video and audio recording of you boarding the bus shows you verbally abusing kids and alleging someone was "bullying" your child," Short writes in the letter.

Aikins said that the full surveillance footage, which has not been released to her, should reveal that she was given permission to get on the bus.

A month after the bus incident, Monroeville, Pennsylvania police showed up at Aikins' home to investigate, she told ABC News, but determined that no law had been broken and ultimately no charges were filed.

In a subsequent police report dated September 21, 2017, a school resource officer recommended that no files be charged.

"Based on my viewing the video as well as my past experience with similar situations during my time as the School Resource Officer (SRO) with the Gateway School District, I do not believe Mrs. Aikins' actions warrant any type of criminal charges."

The report goes on to say that the officer spoke with Short and "advised him of my conclusions, and he was satisfied."

"Therefore, this case should be considered closed."

Although the bus incident involved Aikins' son Carson, she is currently banned only from her son Tyler's second grade classroom. She said that a parent of two of Tyler's classmates, who were also on the bus that day, made a complaint about her addressing the alleged bully on the bus, Aikins said.

Aikins said she is involved in pending litigation against that parent.

"I even told Mr. Short, 'You want to give me a consequence then give me a consequence, but why does my consequence involve my children?'" Aikins said. "They could've chosen another punishment and they chose this."

Aikins, a substitute teacher who works in 13 districts, said that she is no longer substituting in the Gateway School District.

Short told ABC News in a statement that Aikins was employed through an outsourced company and that the district could not terminate her employment, because they "did not hire her."

The outsource company, Kelly Services, declined to comment to ABC News.

“Ms. Aikins remains employed with Kelly Services,” the company wrote.

Aikins remains banned by the district from involvement in her older son Tyler's school-sponsored activities, including field trips and classroom readings.

According to Pennsylvania law, "a person who enters a school bus without prior authorization of the driver or a school official with intent to commit a crime or disrupt or interfere with the driver or a person who enters a school bus without prior authorization of the driver or a school official who refuses to disembark after being ordered to so by the driver commits a misdemeanor of the third degree."

Aikins and her lawyer maintain their claim that the bus driver allowed her on the bus.

In an email to ABC News, Short contested that claim.

"The parent did contact the Principal and a thorough investigation was completed with "no evidence" of "Bullying,"" Short wrote. "The parent did not request, nor is permitted by law to board a school bus. There was NO authorization given! The district stands by the decision. Mrs. Aiken [sic] is entitled to her opinion and interpretation of the events."

An international expert in bullying, youth aggression and teen dating violence said that she can see why Aikins may have felt the need to board the bus that day.

"[S]chools are often not responsive to parents concerns about bullying activities that are happening on the bus and parents often take this type of action or parents then drive their kids to school for years," said Dr. Dorothy L. Espelage, a psychology professor at the University of Florida, who said she was speaking in a general sense and is not involved in the Aikins dispute with the school district.

Espelage suggested that parents get answers to key questions.

"Find out what their [school's] procedures are for handling bullying situations on the bus," Espelage said. "What type of training has the bus driver had? can [driver's] have an assistant on bus? How do [drivers] address seating arrangements when there is an identified bully situation?"

Espelage recommended that if there is no adequate response from school administrators, a parent should attend school board meetings to bring the issue to the attention of the board members.

The section of the Gateway School District's elementary school handbook dealing with bullying states that "[t]he school district will not tolerate any acts of bullying occurring on school district property, at school-sponsored activities scheduled on or off school grounds, or during the time students necessarily spend traveling to and from school or school-sponsored activities, or transmitted in any way through school computers, networks or equipment."

Aikins said she would like to pursue further action against the district, but has not yet filed civil litigation.

Aikins said she would like her rights to be reinstated at her children's school.

"I just want to be able to participate," she said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
May042018

WWII veteran to graduate college nearly 70 years after his last class

Haraz N. Ghanbari(TOLEDO, Ohio) -- It's been almost 70 years since Bob Barger last sat in a classroom, but the World War II veteran will finally receive his college diploma this weekend.

The 96-year-old former U.S. Navy pilot will graduate Saturday with an associate degree in technical studies from the University of Toledo in his hometown, the school said.

He is believed to be the oldest graduate in the university's history.

"I never thought I'd live to see this," Barger said in a recent interview with ABC station WTVG in Toledo, Ohio. "It's a miracle!"

Barger enlisted in the Navy in 1940, where he served as a commissioned naval officer, earned his naval aviator wings and was detailed as a naval flight officer. After war ended and Barger returned home to Toledo, he took classes at the local university.

But Barger dropped out before finishing his degree to focus on his job and providing for his wife and two children, according to a press release from the University of Toledo.

Decades later, Barger was asked to officiate the promotion of Navy Reserve officer Haraz Ghanbari to the rank of lieutenant, and the two became friends. Ghanbari, the director of military and veteran affairs at the University of Toledo, eventually learned that Barger was a former student who never graduated.

So he started searching for the veteran's transcripts.

"We were able to retrieve his transcripts from the archives. They were actually on microfiche," Ghanbari said in a recent interview with WTVG.

The records showed that Barger attended the University of Toledo from 1947 to 1950, and that he had completed enough courses to graduate from the school's University College with an associate degree -- a two-year diploma not offered at the time he was a student.

"We are proud to honor a member of the ‘Greatest Generation’ at commencement," Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College at Toledo, said in a statement. "It will be a memorable moment to see Bob receive the degree he earned and pay tribute to a veteran who served our country."

The plan is for Barger to be first of nearly 3,100 students to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas at the university's Glass Bowl stadium Saturday morning.

Ghanbari said he'll be by the veteran's side to help him do that.

"I will just put one foot in front of the other and keep going, I guess," Barger laughed.

Barger, who has four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren, said he looks forward to celebrating the milestone with family and friends.

"My grandson graduated from UT, and he no longer can say he is one up on me," he said in a statement through the school. "I have a degree, too, just took me a while!"

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