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June 27 Education Update: Greek life issues at Penn State, Supreme Court rulings and library funding battles

| Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 9:45 a.m.
In this April 4, 2017, file photo, Penn State's former Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on Burrowes Road sits empty after being shut down in State College, Pa.
In this April 4, 2017, file photo, Penn State's former Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on Burrowes Road sits empty after being shut down in State College, Pa.

Fraternity issues just keep piling up at Penn State, where 18 members of the Beta Theta Pi house face criminal charges in the alcohol-fueled death of pledge Timothy Piazza, 19.

The Centre Daily Times reports that PSU alumnus Donald Abbey, a wealthy real estate investor who gave millions of dollars to the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi for upkeep of the stately mansion, wants his money back now that the university has shuttered the house and permanently banned the chapter.

Arguments over whether Abbey should be able to recover his $8.5 million donation are heading to court July 5.

Questions? Story ideas? Send them to: schooltips@tribweb.com

You can also call me, TribLIVE Reporter Debra Erdley, at 724-850-1209 or tweet at me: @deberdley_trib.

LOCAL

SUMMER AT THE LIBRARY, OR WHO WANTS TO READ: Greensburg Hempfield Area Library officials are primed to take their battle for a funding referendum in Hempfield Township to the streets. Officials said Monday they will seek 673 signatures from Hempfield Township residents on a petition seeking to get the referendum seeking a one-mill library tax on the ballot. The decision followed a 3-2 vote by supervisors rejecting the library's request to put the referendum on the fall ballot.

STATE

BUDGET COUNTDOWN CONTINUES: Still watching for signs of life in Harrisburg as the countdown to Friday's state budget deadline continues.

NATIONAL

SUPREME COURT RULING: Monday's Supreme Court ruling in the case between Trinity Lutheran Church Child Learning Center and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources could impact how taxpayer funds are shared with non-public schools, including religious schools.

In 2012, the center applied for a state Department of Natural Resources grant to refurbish its playground. While the application was competitive, the department denied the application because the center is run by a church.

The Supreme Court ruled that such grants, funded by taxpayers, could be made available to nonprofits and could not be denied to programs or schools run by a church, reports NPR .

According to EdWeek , the underlying question in the case is whether state constitutional provisions that prohibit government funds from going to religious organizations violates the religious freedom protections in the First Amendment.

This decision could make it easier for state funds to flow into non-public and religious schools through state voucher and school choice programs.

In a statement released by the U.S. Department of Education, Secretary Betsy DeVos expressed her support for the decision.

Full text of the Supreme Court's opinion here .

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The U.S. Supreme Court order issued Monday upholding part of President Trump's travel ban shouldn't affect international students, though it bars travelers from six majority Muslim countries from entering the country until the court takes up the entire issue this fall.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the court order said “students from the designated countries who have been admitted to American colleges have a qualifying ‘relationship with an American entity,' as would ‘a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company or a lecturer invited to address an American audience.'”

The justices will hear full arguments in October in the case. Until then, a limited travel ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can be enforced if those visitors lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” the court ruled.

STUDENTS & SOCIAL MEDIA: EdWeek takes a look at how schools are monitoring what students post online without violating free speech and privacy rights.

HIGH SCHOOL IN COLLEGE: They might be future diplomats or just world travelers, but whatever the future holds for them, it's a pretty good bet the Pennsylvania high school students converging on Pitt's Oakland campus for a four-week course in international studies will come away with a broader view of the world.

No time for sleeping late for this crew.

The high school juniors and seniors selected for the Pennsylvania Governor's School for Global and International Studies are spending their mornings immersed in classes in Chinese, Arabic or Portuguese. Their afternoons include studies in global health, commodities, human rights and environmental issues among other topics.

DEEP DIVE ON ADDICTION: Everybody's talking about it, but Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Mid-Atlantic Research and Training Institute (MARTI) for Community Behavioral Health will kick off a three-year project on the opioid epidemic and suicide prevention at its annual conference July 10-14 at IUP.

IUP Associate Professor Christian Vaccaro, one of the conference coordinators, said the event will feature research and clinical training for social service professionals as well as educators, school nurses and counselors who work on the front lines of these issues. During the next three years, MARTI will take a three-pronged approach to the opioid and suicide crises through research, community outreach and professional development and training.

Registration is open for the conference, which is expected to attract up to 200 participants. Pre-registration is required through IUP Office of Conference Services at 724-357-2227.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE STUDIES: Follow Aaron Aupperlee's reporting on Carnegie Mellon University's work to further the development of artificial intelligence . Could Western Pennsylvania become the hub of a new technology that will change the world?

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