Five stories that have North Texas talking: the feds join the search for the so-called “affluenza” teen; a judge rules against the Texas foster care system; a science experiment stirs up controversy; and more.
The U.S. Marshals Service has joined the search for a North Texas teenager who was serving probation for killing four people in a 2013 drunken-driving wreck after invoking a defense that he suffered from "affluenza." Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said Thursday the search for 18-year-old Ethan Couch was drawing federal resources. The FBI says arrangements are being made for the bureau to join the search. Lawyers for Couch issued a statement saying his probation officer hasn't been able to reach him for several days, prompting authorities to issue the juvenile equivalent of an arrest warrant for the teen. They're also seeking the boy's mother, Tonya Couch, with whom he had been living. Couch's attorneys claimed at trial that his irresponsible lifestyle was due to wealthy parents who coddled him. [Associated Press]
- Texas’ foster care system violates children’s rights, a judge has declared. The Texas Tribune reports: “’Years of abuse, neglect and shuttling between inappropriate placements across the state has created a population that cannot contribute to society, and proves a continued strain on the government through welfare, incarceration or otherwise,’ the ruling states. ‘... Although some foster children are able to overcome these obstacles, they should not have to.’ The class-action lawsuit, brought by the New York-based advocacy group Children’s Rights, Inc. in 2011 on behalf of children in long-term foster care, argued that Texas caseworkers are assigned too many children for them to effectively monitor and that kids are placed too far away from home into settings where they do not get appropriate care.’” [Texas Tribune]
- A sixth-grade science assignment has stirred up some controversy. The Keller school district says it’s reviewing an assignment that had students make a step-by-step plan showing how cocaine gets from a drug cartel to a street dealer. KTVT CBS 11 reports that a teacher in Keller gave out a science class assignment called "The Cocaine Trade: From Field to Street.” Parent Scott Pick says he contacted administrators after his 11-year-old son brought home the study sheet for an assignment on "Following a Sequence." He says he felt it was "a diagram of how to become a drug dealer." Administrators say the assignment "will be reviewed before being considered for future use," adding that the district will continue efforts to regularly "review, remind, and revise drug educational material." [KTVT/Associated Press]
- Blue Bell gets this year’s Bum Steer Award from Texas Monthly. The annual award makes fun of Texas politicians and personalities and the magazine explores odd Texas tales. (Example: Wendy Davis won last year.) The magazine says: “But for all the kooky criminals and posturing politicians, the big question is always who will be called the Bum Steer of the Year, and despite a few worthy candidates—familiar names including the Dallas Cowboys and unfamiliar ones like the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theorists—in the end we couldn’t escape the fact that Blue Bell’s troubles overshadowed everyone and everything else. We were also struck by how willing many Texans were to cheer the company on even before all the facts were known about its safety record.” [Texas Monthly]
- Star Wars fans were out in force Thursday night to watch “The Force Awakens." The Dallas Morning News has a round-up. KERA’s Gus Contreras talked with some fans who showed up 10 hours -- yes, 10 hours! -- before show time. And here's more from WFAA-TV.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.