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6 to Know: Miami-Dade School Board Flip-Flops, Approves Sex Education Books

It’s Friday, July 29th – and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day

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It’s Friday, July 29th – and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.

No. 1 - After an hours-long standoff with police, the armed suspect who was barricaded at a home in Hialeah surrendered.

Officers were initially called to the scene at around 11:30 a.m. on East 53rd Terrace after neighbors spotted 34-year-old David Rodriguez walking in front of a home with a gun and a propane tank, Hialeah Police said. Police said Rodriguez was in contact with crisis negotiators and "thankfully due to the patience and tireless efforts by our negotiators and SWAT personnel, Rodriguez surrendered and was taken into custody without further incident under the Baker Act law." Police believed he was alone inside the house.

No. 2 - After waiting more than five years for justice, the frustrated family of an 80-year-old doctor saw the man convicted of killing him sentenced to prison, Thursday.

Ariel Chmielarz, 62, got 12 years in Florida state prison with three years of probation, but he can serve as little as four years with credit for time served, including about five years in the Broward County Jail. Dr. Arthur Knochenhauer was running in the 13.1 mile Michelob Ultra Fort Lauderdale Marathon when he was struck by a car in the 1700 block of East Las Olas Boulevard on Nov. 13, 2016. Chmielarz was convicted of DUI manslaughter after the pandemic slowed the court proceedings. Speaking at his sentencing hearing, Chmielarz sought the family’s forgiveness.

No. 3 - It’s as if last week’s controversial vote never happened. The Miami-Dade School Board held an emergency meeting Thursday to figure out what to do about sex education, which is required by state law for middle and high school students.

Last week the board painted itself into a corner by rejecting sex education curriculum which it had previously approved. At Thursday's meeting, the board unexpectedly, and with much bickering, reversed course. “The process cannot be reversed,” said board member Lubby Navarro at one point, arguing that the decision to reject the textbooks was final. Apparently, she was wrong. The board voted 5 to 4 to bring back the sex education textbooks it had first approved, then rejected, and now approved again. School board chair Perla Tabares Hantman switched from a no vote last week to a yes vote Thursday.

No. 4 - After months of back and forth between companies positioning to buy the South Florida based airline Spirit, on Thursday JetBlue Airways came out on top.

JetBlue announced it agreed acquire Spirit Airlines in a $3.8 billion deal. The deal needs to be approved by U.S regulators, but if it goes through, the carriers expect it could go in effect by the first half 2024. JetBlue said under the merger, it would operate nearly 1,700 daily flights to 125 destinations in 30 countries. The combined company will have over 450 planes, making it the nation's fifth-largest airline. Now the question is, what comes next, especially in South Florida. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6’s Amanda Plasencia.

No. 5 - There’s now a major change when it comes to finding out if police officers in the community have been in trouble before.

It’s something protestors called for after George Floyd’s murder: a new database set up by the state that shows some officers who have been disciplined, and those who can’t be on the force anymore.  The database on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's website includes the records of officers who have received discipline from the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission (CJSTC) since Jan. 1, 2012. Community advocates say this is positive, but they would like to be able to see more. The state says that this information was available before, but finding it was another story in just how complicated that was. Now, this one database holds the information for the officers who got in trouble, sorted by the agency they work for. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6 investigator Willard Shepard.

No. 6 - South Florida’s Brightline rail line has been reported as one of the most dangerous in the country, striking cars and pedestrians dozens of times in recent years after they move on to railroad tracks, according to a federal database.

The train runs on the track owned by the Florida East Coast Railway and has three stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration online database, Brightline trains collided with cars or pedestrians 85 times since the rail line launched in 2018. NBC 6 Investigators analyzed data from the Department of Transportation and reviewed our coverage of recent accidents and found the crossings with the most accidents in South Florida are in Broward County. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6 investigator Phil Prazan.

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