118 city schools apply for PROSE program as teacher work rules allow for adjusted schedules, class sizes

City schools boss Carmen Fariña said 118 public schools have applied for the PROSE program that will allow them to experiment with new teacher work rules. The chancellor made the announcement while visiting The School of Integrated Learning in Brooklyn, which is using flexible teacher-student ratios. Under the teachers union contract ratified in June, the 62 schools in the Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence program are permitted to make changes to teacher schedules, class sizes and other aspects of the school day governed by the teacher labor agreement. Fariña said the success of PROSE at the Brooklyn schools went “way beyond my expectations.” “You see something here that in some other schools would raise people's eyebrows,” she said. “You have one teacher with almost 40 kids in the class and you have another teacher with eight kids in the class. And no one is saying this is how many I have, this is how many you have. They're saying in order for me to do my job here, you're gonna do your job there.” The city and the union created the program amid criticism that teacher contracts stifled innovation. Last year, 107 schools applied to be part of the program and 62 were accepted. A majority of the new applications — 39 — come from schools in Brooklyn, followed by 35 in the Bronx, 25 from Manhattan, 17 from Queens and two from Staten Island. The Goldie Maple Academy in Queens, for example, wants to implement an 8 a.m. to 4:34 p.m. school day schedule. In exchange for the longer day, teachers would work a four-day week. “What we have found over and over is all of our schools are highly collaborative like this one,” said Jackie Bennett of the United Federation of Teachers, who toured The School of Integrated Learning. “You can try to implement things in all sorts of places, it doesn't really take unless everyone Continue Reading

Miami police rule celebrity dermatologist Fredric Brandt’s death a suicide

The death of dermatologist to the stars Fredric Brandt, whose patients included Madonna and supermodel Stephanie Seymour, was ruled a suicide Monday, police said. The body of the 65-year-old Brandt was found in his Miami mansion Sunday by a house guest. Miami police confirmed that Brandt hanged himself in the garage. He was found by his house guest around 9:30 a.m., hanging from a yellow cord with a white towel around his neck, according to Miami Police. The guest said he'd been staying with Brandt for the past few days because the doctor had become depressed, the police report said. Cops called Brandt's psychiatrist to the scene. She told police she'd been treating him for the past 10 days for severe depression. Dr. Brandt’s publicist, Jacquie Tractenberg, said Sunday that his death came after an illness. But Miami Herald columnist Lesley Abravanel said sources told her Brandt was “devastated” over comparisons to a character played by Martin Short in the Tina Fey-produced Netflix sitcom “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which debuted March 6. The Newark, N.J.-raised Brandt had offices in Miami and Manhattan. Known as a wizard with a syringe, Brandt was famous for his “signature Y lifts” in which fillers are injected below the cheekbone. “If I have nice skin, I owe a lot to him,” Madonna once said. Brandt opened an office in Manhattan in 1998 after founding a successful cosmetic dermatology practice in Miami.  Continue Reading

Judge rules family of Baruch College frat pledge killed during hazing ritual can proceed with lawsuit against school

The family of a Baruch College fraternity pledge who was killed in a hazing ritual can proceed with a planned lawsuit against the school, a state judge has ruled. In a ruling filed last week, state Court of Claims Judge Alan Marin gave Chun (Michael) Deng permission to file a late claim against the school - and the family's lawyer said he plans on suing the school and the fraternity responsible for hazing later this year. "We're planning to hold the school and the people responsible for this accountable," the mom's lawyer, William Friedlander, told the Daily News. "We're trying to make it totally unacceptable to haze these pledges and have these types of rituals that leads to mayhem and death." Deng was fatally injured during a twisted ritual known as the “glass ceiling” on Dec. 8, 2013. About 30 of his would-be Pi Delta Psi frat brothers rented a home in the Poconos, where the 19-year-old freshman was repeatedly hit while blindfolded and lugging 20 pounds of sand in a knapsack, cops said. After he was knocked unconscious, the brothers waited over an hour to get him medical help, officials said. The coroner ruled his death a homicide last year, and the frat was booted off the campus. Deng's mom, Xiu Fen Liu, filed a claim last year seeking permission to sue the school. The state school had urged the judge not to let the mom proceed, insisting it was not responsible for the Queens teen's death. It submitted a statement from Baruch's director of student life saying that the school hadn't known about the Pennsylvania trip, that the president and treasurer of the Pi Delta Psi attended an anti-hazing workshop three months before the incident, and 11 members of the frat had signed an anti-hazing agreement. Liu countered that there's still plenty the family doesn't know about the school's potential role in her son's death, in part because of the pending police investigation. In a ruling last month, Marin agreed and gave the mom Continue Reading

Jimmy Kimmel asks kids to explain gay marriage in wake of SCOTUS ruling

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling for marriage equality in all 50 states, Jimmy Kimmel asked a very special segment of the population to explain what gay marriage is: kids. "As you know the Supreme Court decision on Friday in favor of same-sex marriage is controversial," the "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" host said Monday night. "One of the most common arguments you hear is, 'How do I explain this to my kids?'" he continued, adding, "At the very least it's a fair question." So he set out to answer the question on the behalf of parents everywhere by chatting with a few kids about it. "I know nothing about that yet," one young man said when asked to explain what gay marriage is. But some of the children were quite informed on the topic of marriage and love despite the couple's sexual orientation. While one young man said the reason behind people's decision to get married is "because they're pregnant," another explained, "because they love each other and they just feel a connection." One little boy answered the question "When should two people get married," quite literally. "In the afternoon," he said. A bright-eyed girl confidently stated that "for some kids" it's difficult to understand what gay marriage is, but not for her. "Do you think anybody should be able to get married," the interviewer asked. "If you're old enough," she quickly replied, adding that she would like to get married "when I'm 30." An insightful boy wanted to differentiate what it meant when two men get married as opposed to two women. "Where a boy marries another boy," he said when asked to define gay marriage. But when asked if it could also apply to two women getting married he said "no" because that's "lesbianism." At the end of the day it didn't matter to the kid because in his opinion anyone could get married. "If they want to they should be able to," he said before explaining why he doesn't really want Continue Reading

Supreme Court rules in favor of healthcare subsidies in huge victory for White House, Obama declares law is ‘here to stay’

WASHINGTON — Obamacare “is here to stay.” A jubilant President Obama hailed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday that handed him a monumental victory by preserving his signature health care law that insures millions of Americans. “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” Obama said in remarks in the Rose Garden after the ruling. “We’ve got more work to do, but what we’re not gonna do is unroll what has now been woven into the fabric of America.”  FOLLOW THE DAILY NEWS ON FACEBOOK. CLICK HERE TO "LIKE" The court, in a 6-to-3 ruling, decided that the subsidies nearly 9 million people receive to help make their health insurance affordable — a key part of the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare — are legal nationwide and do not depend on where recipients live or purchase them. The ruling means the legislation is almost certain to survive past Obama’s presidency and marks another enormous victory for the administration, which has been forced to defend the law time and time again since its 2010 enactment. Obama argued that the law is working, helping tens of millions get coverage and slowing the rise of health care costs. “This is not an abstract thing anymore. This is not a set of political talking points. This is reality,” he said. “It’s working. In many ways, this law is working better than it’s supposed to.”The case turned on a clause within the 900-page law that allows tax subsidies for people buying insurance in “an exchange established by the state.” The language went unnoted when the law passed. But Obamacare critics who sued argued it barred subsidies for people in 36 states that rely on a federal health-care exchange, having failed to set up state exchanges. Had opponents prevailed, about 6.5 million people would have lost those subsidies, a result that would have threatened Continue Reading

Keith Yandle in Rangers’ lineup despite missing morning skate; Kevin Klein ruled out for Game 4

PITTSBURGH – Deadline acquisition Keith Yandle skipped the Rangers’ morning skate for a second straight game day on Wednesday but remained in the lineup for Game 4 on Wednesday night. The puck-moving defenseman is still dealing with an illness that kept him out for Monday’s morning skate in Pittsburgh, prior to Game 3. Yandle dressed for the Rangers’ 2-1 win, however, and provided a slick assist on Carl Hagelin’s goal to open scoring. “He’s still not 100 percent so he’s just saving his energy for the game,” Alain Vigneault said early Wednesday afternoon. * * * Kevin Klein (broken left arm) was ruled out for Game 4 on Wednesday night, but the injured Rangers defenseman is getting close to his first game action since March 11. Klein skated with the full team on Wednesday morning for the second time in three days, and he took slap shots for a second straight day after doing so with the extras on Tuesday afternoon. Vigneault was at the team hotel during Tuesday’s session, so he was excited by what he saw at the rink. RELATED: BROKEN ARM HIT A SOUR NOTE WITH BANJO-PLAYING KEVIN KLEIN “I just saw him out there earlier slapping pucks,” Vigneault said. “That’s the first time I’ve seen him do that. I would say that he’s close to having a full practice with the team.” Full practices are few and far between, however, due to the postseason schedule, so Vigneault conceded that the team may have to consider morning skates as practices for Klein. That leaves open the possibility that the top-four defenseman could return as early as Game 5 on Friday night at the Garden. * * * Center Derick Brassard scored two goals and had been the Rangers’ most consistent forward in this series entering Game 4. He is taking the next step in his Continue Reading

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling granting same-sex marriage rights in all states is a boon to immigrant same-sex couples

Last week’s U.S. Supreme court decision granting same-sex couples the right to marry in all U.S. states and in unincorporated U.S. territories, like Puerto Rico, applies to all individuals, including couples from different countries. Prior to the ruling that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, a same-sex couple wanting to marry sometimes had to travel to another state or country. That was a hardship to some U.S. citizens or permanent residents seeking to petition for a spouse. 10 HISTORICAL MOMENTS IN THE GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT Since the Supreme Court found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in 2013, U.S. citizens and permanent residents have had the right to petition for foreign same-sex spouses. But until last week’s decision, many binational same-sex couples had a hard time marrying. For example, one undocumented reader in Puerto Rico wrote about wanting to marry a U.S. citizen living in New York, a state that already allowed same-sex marriages. Until last Thursday, same-sex couples could not marry in Puerto Rico. FOLLOW THE DAILY NEWS ON FACEBOOK. CLICK HERE TO "LIKE." And, an undocumented immigrant traveling to the U.S. from there risked arrest and deportation. Now, the couple can marry in Puerto Rico and the U.S. citizen can petition for her spouse. Once the foreign national gets her green card, the couple can live anywhere they choose. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will recognize marriages lawful in the state or country where the marriage occurred, including marriages in foreign countries. TEXAS A.G: RELIGIOUS BELIEFS TRUMPS GAY MARRIAGE RULING The immigration laws for married same-sex spouses are the same as for different-sex spouses. That includes the right for a U.S. citizen to petition for a same-sex fiancé(e) abroad and for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to petition for stepchildren created by a same-sex marriage. Of course, as in other marriage cases, USCIS will want proof Continue Reading

The right ruling at the right time: Kudos to Anthony Kennedy and the Supreme Court for making same-sex marriage a national constitutional right

The highest court in the land has made the most momentous social-policy ruling in memory, deeming it a basic, constitutionally protected right for same-sex couples across the nation to marry. It was the right ruling made in the right way, and at the right time. Led by Anthony Kennedy, justices were split 5-4 — with one of the dissents, penned by Antonin Scalia, only qualified to be called viciously contemptuous. GOVERNORS VOW TO FIGHT SCOTUS RULING ON GAY MARRIAGE But Scalia’s bile obscures the fact that in recent years, at breakneck historical speed and with minimal bitterness, the nation has awakened to the wisdom of allowing people, regardless of whom they love, to enjoy equal rights to participate in society’s most basic secular institution. FOLLOW THE DAILY NEWS ON FACEBOOK. CLICK HERE TO "LIKE." Two years ago, with just 12 states recognizing gay marriage, the court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which blocked federal recognition of gay marriage — wisely letting the still-raucous debate continue to play out at the state level. As people saw same-sex couples entering into stable legal unions — and no resulting harm — momentum gathered. On Friday morning before the ruling, 37 states — either by court decision, legislative vote or popular referendum — had extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. In 1996, just 27% of Americans supported making same-sex marriage legal; today, it’s twice as high. The court is reflecting the country and following the lead of the people. There is no meaningful argument on the other side except the word: “because.” This got dressed up in paeans to the importance of the man-woman atomic family unit as the basis for child-rearing, and therefore society. But no one could explain why infertile couples are allowed and even encouraged to marry, with inheritance rights and other benefits resulting. No one Continue Reading

5 other examples of politicians toying with the email rules

On Monday night, news emerged that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used only her personal email account for official business throughout her tenure as the department's head — but she's hardly alone. The development, first reported by The New York Times, could represent a serious breach of transparency rules for most federal officials that dictate that letters and emails sent and received are official government records and must be kept. Exceptions to the laws exist for certain correspondences considered classified or sensitive. A Clinton spokesman told The News that "like secretaries of state before (Clinton), she used her own email account when engaging with any department officials." While the situation could represent a setback for Clinton's likely 2016 presidential bid, she is hardly the first politician to be caught conducting official business on his or her personal email account. Here are FIVE other examples of politicians — and their top aides — testing the limits when it comes to their emails. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin Palin kept a separate personal email account, on top of her official government account and regular personal account, to conduct official business for most of her tenure in office. Palin, the GOP vice presidential candidate in 2008, allegedly used the third account to communicate with a group of her closest staffers, according to the Washington Post. She was eventually forced to release more than 24,000 pages of emails from her official and private email accounts, including more than 400 emails from a second Yahoo account. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney Mitt Romney, the GOP's 2012 presidential nominee, and some of his top aides used private email accounts to conduct state business at times when Romney was governor of Massachusetts, The Associated Press reported this week, citing documents obtained by the news agency. The communications, Continue Reading

City parks worker violates ethics rules by accepting Godiva liqueur gift, gets fined $1,000

A $15 gift of chocolate liqueur turned sour for a “sweet” Brooklyn Parks Department manager whom the city fined $1,000 for accepting it. Cristina Badillo, 40, was fined for running afoul of city ethics rules after taking the Godiva liqueur and an $8 box of Whitman’s chocolates as a gift from a grateful arborist whose tree-pruning application she processed, according to a Conflicts of Interest Board disposition published on Wednesday. The arborist, who is not identified in the ruling, had gone to Badillo’s office to see if he could get a permit to prune a Brooklyn tree for “religious purposes” at the end of August 2013. After it was approved, Badillo — an office manager with the department’s Brooklyn Forestry Office, where she has worked since 2007 — emailed him the permit at his request. A week later, he showed up at the office with the bottle of liqueur and the chocolates. “The private arborist told me that the items were for you ‘being sweet,’ ” Badillo told the Conflicts board. “I did not understand at the time that it was intended as a gratuity.” It’s unclear how the city found out about the modest gifts, but Badillo was hit with the hefty fine — 43 times what her combined gift value was worth — because accepting the presents was a violation of rules that forbid city employees from taking presents from “any person whose interests may be affected by the public servant’s official action.” Badillo didn’t even keep all the treats to herself. She told the board that she shared the chocolates with her co-workers. She took the liqueur home, she said. Her father, Angel Badillo, 70, defended her Wednesday night. “She didn’t do anything wrong with that,” he said at the family’s Brooklyn home. His daughter wasn’t the only city official who got in trouble with the Conflicts Continue Reading