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BRIEFLY $90K Prosecutors say the treasurer of a New York City youth baseball organization stole more than $90,000 that was supposed to be used for sports programs for teenagers. William Jacobvitz was indicted Friday on a second- degree grand larceny charge. Prosecutors say Jacobvitz was the group’s treasurer and made more than 50 unauthorized withdrawals from its bank accounts. The money came f rom players’ fees and donations. NYC woman talks about suing nephew The New York City woman vilified for suing her 12-year-old nephew over a broken wrist she suffered when he jumped in her arms to greet her four years ago said Thursday she was “ never comfortable” with the lawsuit. Jennifer Connell appeared on NBC’s “Today” show along with her nephew, Sean Tarala. She said she wanted her nephew’s parents’ home- o wners insurance to pay her medical bills, but under Connecticut law she c ould only sue an individual. “ An individual has to be named, and in this case, because Sean and I h ad this fall together, I was informed t hat Sean had to be named. I was never comfortable with that,” she said. A jury last week rejected Connell’s $ 127,000 suit. Connell said she broke her wrist when the boy jumped into h er arms at his 8th-birthday party at h is family’s home in Westport, Connecticut, causing her to fall. Her at- t orneys say she filed suit after her nephew’s parents’ insurance company offered her $1over the accident. Connell and Sean sat side by side and said they loved each other. “She would never do anything to hurt the family or myself,” Sean said. Connell said she was shocked by the backlash, which included her vilification on social media as a terrible aunt, the most hated woman in America and an awful human being. “It was amazing how I walked into court that morning and walked out all over social media. It just spun and spun, and suddenly I was getting calls, ‘Don’t look at the Internet. Don’t turn o n the television,’” she said. Contact t he team EDITOR/ NY STATE SECTION Ben Jacobs b firstname.lastname@example.org ( 585) 258-2268 F ollow him on Twitter @ bjacobsroch ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF Joseph Spector j email@example.com ( 518) 436-9781 F ollow him on Twitter @ GannettAlbany ALBANY BUREAU R EPORTER Jon Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org ( 518) 436-9781 F ollow him on Twitter @JonCampbellGAN autism to do, find other ways for them to interact with their environment and their world and the people within it, then there’ll be less likelihood they’ll do those o ther behaviors.” A ngela Pagliaro, Rethink’s director of clinical services, showed the workshop attendees a series of videos of therapists w orking with children: a therapist saying “point to the dog” and rewarding the child with praise and stickers when he c omplies, another therapist training a boy to make eye contact by putting an object he’s interested in near her face. T he idea is to provide the paraprofessionals, who are not required to have a c ollege degree and who typically earn around $30,000 a year — about $20,000 less than the minimum for a New York C ity teacher — with some of the tools used by well-paid private therapists. Pagliaro said it’s crucial for parapro- f essionals in New York and beyond to receive this type of training. “ Paraprofessionals are the last group to get training and they’re the ones that are working with students,” she said. Marilyn Likins, the executive director of the National Resource Center for Paraeducators, based at Utah State University, agreed that more training is n eeded. “Paraeducators have frequently been left out of the loop,” she said. “Do they need training? Absolutely.” City Department of Education spokesman Harry Hartfield said the department is committed to providing high-quality services for students with autism with the help of Rethink and oth- NEW YORK - The icebreaker was s imple: Choose a partner and learn three t hings about her. The catch: Your partner will pretend she does not speak. The room full of New York City school p araprofessionals gestured and thumped the table in an exercise meant to put them in the mindset of their stud ents: children with autism who in many cases are nonverbal. Recent years have seen autism diag- n oses skyrocketing in New York and elsewhere. There were 14,600 such stud ents in city schools last year, up from 6,000 in 2008. One such student, 14-year-old Avonte O quendo, slipped out of his school two years ago and was later found dead, a tragedy that prompted the City Council t o pass Avonte’s Law — legislation requiring audible alarms on doors as well a s additional training to stop kids from running out of the building. Last week’s training session at Public School 396 in Brooklyn — run by a company called Rethink, known for its videos that demonstrate therapy techniques for children with autism — was i ntended to help special-education workers reach children, and perhaps keep them from wanting to run in the first place. “Why did Avonte run?” said Principal Nira Schwartz Nyitra. “We’re never going to know other than that’s something that he did. If we find other more appropriate and safer things for students with er contractors. “It’s our goal to ensure all staff has the knowledge and expertise they need to support students with autism,” he said. A n investigation into Avonte’s Octo- b er 2013 disappearance from the Riverview School in Queens found that numerous lapses contributed to the boy’s d eath. Among them, the paraprofessionals who escorted Avonte’s class from the lunchroom to recess said they d id not know that Avonte’s mother had warned that he had a tendency to run. Asubsequent investigation did not r ecommend that any employee be disciplined, and none has been. A lawsuit b y Avonte’s family over his disappearance is pending. Asked if Avonte’s mother, Vanessa F ontaine, feels that the Department of Education has improved its services to children with autism since her son dis- a ppeared, Fontaine’s lawyer, David Pe- recman, said, “It’s hard when you’ve l ost a child to be pleased with someone closing the barn door after the horse has exited.” Tennielle Johnson, one of the paraprofessionals who attended the Rethink session, said she followed Avonte’s story even though she was liv- i ng in Trinidad when he vanished. She said the workshop bolstered what she knows about taking care of the children she’s responsible for. “You want to make sure they’re safe, they don’t run even if they get upset,” she said. “You use positive reinforcement.” SCHOOL TRAINING BARBARA WOIKE/AP FILE PHOTO 2013 Amissing poster displayed in a New York subway station asks for help in finding Avonte Oquendo, an autistic 14-year-old who was last seen in October 2013 walking out of his Queens school toward a park overlooking the East River. Oquendo’s remains were found in the East River in January 2014, several miles from where he vanished. NYC READIES AIDES TO HELP KIDS WITH AUTISM KAREN MATTHEWS Associated Press DemocratandChronicle .com Sunday,October18,2015 Page27A NYState HURLEY - Call them “The Buzzing D ead.” H oneybees are being threatened by tiny flies that lead them to lurch and stagger around like zombies. The afflicted bees often make uncharacteristic night flights, sometimes buzzing around porch lights before dying. Well-documented on the West Coast, some zombie-bee cases also have been detected in eastern states by volunteers helping track their spread. This comes a s honeybees have already been ravaged i n recent years by mysterious colony col- l apse disorder, vampire mites and nutri- t ional deficiencies. “We’re not making a case that this is the doomsday bug for bees,” said John Hafernik, a biology professor at San Francisco State University. “But it is certainly an interesting situation where we have a parasite that seems to affect the behavior of bees and has them essentially abandoning their hive.” Hafernik in 2012 started a project to enlist people to track the spread of zom- bie bees called ZomBee Watch. Partici- p ants are asked to upload photos of the b ees they collect and photos of pupae and a dult flies as they emerge. They have m ore than 100 confirmed cases. The fly had already been known to afflict bumblebees and yellow jackets. Then in 2008, Hafernik made a discovery after scooping up some disoriented bees beneath a light outside his campus office. Before long, he noticed pupae emerging from a bee. That led to the first of many zombie honeybee cases found in the San Francisco area and beyond. Researchers believe Apocephalus borealis flies attack bees a s they forage. The flies pierce the bees’ a bdomens and deposit eggs, affecting t he behavior of the doomed bees. A beekeeper in Burlington, Vermont, detected the first zombie case in the East, in 2013. Then this summer, amateur beekeeper Joe Naughton of Hurley, New York, discovered the first of two recently confirmed cases in the Hudson Valley, north of New York City. Naughton, who has 200,000 or more bees, is not panicking just yet. “You know, the ‘zombie’ thing is a little bit sensational and some people hear that and t hey go right into alarm bells ringing,” Naughton said. “Where the state of things are right now is mostly just fact f inding.” A nd there are a lot of facts to find. I t’s possible that zombie watchers like Naughton are just now detecting a parasite that has been targeting honeybees for a long time, though Hafernik notes that reports of honeybees swarming night lights are a recent phenomenon. It’s not clear if zombie bees can be linked to colony collapse disorder, a syndrome in which whole colonies fail after the loss of adult worker bees. Scientists h ave not been able to prove what causes C CD, though some believe it could be an i nterplay of factors including mites, pest icides and habitat loss. For now, threats like mites are more of a concern to researchers than the spread of zombie fly parasites. “We have several other stresses on bees and we don’t want any other stress like this one,” said Ramesh Sagili, an assistant professor of apiculture at Oregon State University. “We have to be cautious, but I’m not alarmed that this parasite is going to create a big problem.” ZomBee Watch: Scientists track honeybee killer MICHAEL HILL ASSOCIATED PRESS MIKE GROLL/AP Ahoneybee works atop gift zinnia in Accord on Sept. 1.