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Jake Bacon, Arizona Daily Sun 

Carnival rides leave streaks of light during a long-exposure photograph Thursday evening at a Homecoming carnival on the Northern Arizona University campus. For more photos from Thursday night's events, see Page A8.

Jake Bacon, Arizona Daily Sun 

Patrick Carney answers a question Thursday evening during the Mr. Lumberjack beard competition at a Homecoming carnival event on the university campus. Carney, an Army veteran who works in the Veterans Success Center, took first place in the competition.

Puente applies to become an International Baccalaureate World School

Puente de Hozho Elementary School Principal Robert Kelty is excited about a new program the school hopes to offer to students next school year

Puente was recently named a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate program. Once the school is approved by IB to become an IB World School it will be one of three primary schools in the state of Arizona with that designation.

There are a total of 4,000 schools around the world who are part of the international teaching program. The program is available to schools who teach K through 12th grades. It also offers a high school diploma that prepares students for college in nearly any country in the world, Kelty said.

According the IB website, the program is a method of teaching, rather than a curriculum. The program wraps traditional subjects such as math, science, health, etc. in a framework of six themes. Those themes include “who we are,” “where we are in time and place,” “how we express ourselves,” “how the world works,” “how we organize ourselves,” and “sharing the planet.”

In the fifth grade, student in the IB’s Primary Year Program are required to do an exhibition project. The project is a collaborative research project on any real-life topic or problem that the students wish to study. The idea is for the students to identify, research and offer a real-world solution to the topic or problem.

It goes beyond and incorporates the school’s curriculum to help students learn to think critically, ask questions and be aware of what is happening the world around them and become better world citizens, Kelty said.

“It deepens the teaching for students,” he said. “It create a more thoughtful student.”

Kelty said Puente applied for the program last year and found out in July that it was named as a candidate school for the program. The school will have to go through another three to five years of training and evaluations by the IB program before it can be labeled an IB World School. Teachers and staff at Puente will start training to implement the program in March.

“It was really a no-brainer for our school,” he said. “We think of it as a natural progression of Puente.”

Puente is a dual language school, which is a big part of the IB program. IB students who graduate from IB’s Diploma Program in high school are required to be proficient in two languages.

Puente has a Navajo immersion language program and a Spanish-English bilingual program. Students learn to speak two languages, Spanish speakers learn English, English speakers learn Spanish and Navajo student learn their own language. Many Navajo students come to the school only speaking English, Kelty said. If Puente is accepted as an IB World School, it will be one of the first to have students that are bilingual in English and Navajo.

The IB philosophy also fits with Kelty’s profile. Kelty served for two years as a senior managing director of regional support and development for Teach for America, nearly four years as Coconino County Superintendent of Schools, was the co-founder of the Transformative Learning Center, was a teacher at Puente for nine years and named Arizona Teacher of the Year in 2008.

In order to start the process to become an IB school, a school has to conduct a feasibility study to determine if it is compatible with the IB system. The head of the school has to participate in a workshop about applying to the program. Determine how long it will take to bring the school into compatibility with the IB system and analysis the benefits and costs of the program to the school. The school also needs support from its governing board to enter the program.

If everything looks good, the school applies to the program. The IB program then analysis the application and determines if the school is a good candidate for the program. If it is, the school is labeled a candidate school and can start a trial run of the IB program. That trial run lasts between one to two years. During that time, teachers and staff are sent for training in the IB system and it is slowly rolled out in the classroom, Kelty said.

At the end of the candidacy period, the school is evaluated by a site visit from IB officials and is either granted or not granted status as an IB World School.

The process can be expensive. According to IB’s website, the application for the program is $4,000. The school will pay $9,500 each year that it is a candidate school and $8,520 per year once it becomes an IB World School. The schools are evaluated every five years to make sure they are still following the IB system.

Kelty said Flagstaff Unified School District is hoping to expand the program to Sinagua Middle School and Coconino High School. This would allow students who were interested in the program to earn an IB high school degree and a seal of bilingual education from the state of Arizona. It would also prepare them to enter practically any college or university in the world.

Coconino High School Principal Stacie Zanzucchi said she and the vice principal have already gone through some of the preliminary training for the IB program and are working on the application. They hope to submit the application to IB in June 2018 and be named a candidate school shortly after.

“It fits in really well with our language institute and our school’s philosophy of world citizens,” she said.

Coconino has the Puente de Hozho Language Institute that allows students who are interested in becoming bilingual in either Navajo or Spanish, Zanzucchi said. This gives students who started the process at Puente the chance to continue and receive the certification from the state.

It also gives students who did not attend Puente another way into the IB program, either through Sinauga or once they enter Coconino High, she said. Each level of the IB program, primary, middle and high school, are independent of each other. If a student does take the classes at Puente or Sinagua they can enter it at Coconino.

Both Kelty and Zanzucchi said if their school is not approved for the program that they plan to continue emphasizing bilingual education, critical thinking and the appreciation of other cultures in their students.

“It’s another option for our students. It’s a way for us to put our student’s passions first,” Kelty said. “It’s an excellent option for families that value diversity as well as education.”

Corina Vanek / CORINA VANEK Sun Staff Reporter 

Puente de Hozho Principal Robert Kelty

Taylor Mahoney, Arizona Daily Sun file 

Coconino High School’s Ty Furr (3) carries the ball during last season's rivalry game against Flagstaff High School in the Walkup Skydome.

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Chandler execs indicted over opioid bribes, kickbacks

PHOENIX -- A federal grand jury has indicted the founder and chief shareholder of Chandler-based Insys on charges of overly aggressive -- and illegal -- marketing of its powerful opioid drug that has helped fuel the opioid epidemic.

The criminal case, filed Thursday by federal prosecutors in Massachusetts, claims Scottsdale billionaire John Kapoor, 74, and others at the company conspired to use bribes and kickbacks to get doctors to issue new prescriptions for Subsys. That's the company's concentrated form of fentanyl opioid spray designed to be sprayed under the tongue for immediate relief.

It also says illegal methods were used to get doctors to increase both the dosage and volume of the prescriptions they were writing.

"The bribes and kickbacks took different forms, including speaker fees and honoraria for marketing events, food and entertainment, administrative support, and fees paid to co-conspirator pharmacies," the indictment reads.

Kapoor and six former executives are also accused of defrauding insurers by setting up a scheme to mislead them about why patients needed the drug. The result was insurers and even federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid paying for purchases in cases where Subsys, which the Food and Drug Administration has approved for cancer patients with "breakthrough pain," was instead being prescribed for patients with less serious conditions.

The charges include racketeering, conspiracy and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Each charge provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of each their financial gains.

According to the indictment, Kapoor and Michael Babich, who was president and CEO of the company, were dissatisfied with lackluster sales after the drug hit the market in 2012. The result, the legal papers said, was a speaker program where doctors were paid to urge others to prescribe the drug.

But what was really happening, according to the indictment, was a system of bribes and kickbacks to convince doctors "to issue more prescriptions for the fentanyl spray outside the usual course of their practice and to change the dosages and volumes prescribed."

What also happened, the indictment says, is that doctors who did not write "an appropriate number of prescriptions" found themselves with fewer speaker fees.

William Weinreb, the acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, acknowledged there is nothing illegal in drug companies paying doctors to speak on behalf of their products. But he told Capitol Media Services what happened here is illegal under federal law.

"It rises to a kickback when there's a quid pro quo, when a doctor is being paid by a company not simply to provide information to other doctors or others who may benefit from the expertise, but in exchange for their prescribing a particular company's medication," he said.

Weinreb said the indictment comes in the midst of a nationwide epidemic of opioid misuse, abuse and overdoses. Just Thursday, President Trump declared a nationwide "public health emergency."

"We must hold the industry and its leadership accountable, just as we would the cartels or a street-level drug dealer," Weinreb said.

Attorney Brian Kelly, who appeared with Kapoor in federal court here Thursday, suggested there was a political factor in his client's indictment, coming as it did the day of the president's announcement.

"Curious coincidence of timing, isn't it," he said following the court hearing.

Weinreb said the case stands on its own merits.

"We have the evidence that is alleged in the indictment we believe proves Mr. Kapoor guilty of those crimes," he said. "And that's why we brought criminal charges."

Kapoor, brought into court wearing only a T-shirt and flannel shorts, did not enter a plea at his appearance before U.S. Magistrate Michelle Burns, with his arraignment set for next month in federal court in Boston.

"He's not guilty of the charges," Kelly said after the hearing. "And he intends to fight them vigorously."

In the interim, Burns agreed to his release upon posting of a $1 million cash bond and forbidding him from leaving Maricopa County other than to go to court, a condition enforced with an electronic GPS monitoring bracelet.

The link between the opioid epidemic and the indictment was buttressed by a statement from Phillip Coyne, special agent in charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He said the indictment is designed not only to prosecute those charged but also to send a message to the drug industry.

"Corporate executives intent on illegally driving up profits need to be aware they are now squarely in the sights of law enforcement," he said.

Others named in the indictment include Alec Burlakoff, who was the company's vice president of sales, Richard Simon, who was national director of sales, Michael Gurry, who had been vice president of managed markets, and Sunrise Lee and Joseph Rowan, who were regional sales directors.

Kapoor, Gurry and Babich are all listed in documents from the Department of Justice as Scottsdale residents.

The criminal charges closely parallel a civil lawsuit filed against the company in August by Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

That case, playing out in Maricopa County Superior Court, charges that Insys used unfair and deceptive marketing practices designed to pad company profits at the expense of patient safety. The lawsuit says Insys engaged in a nationwide scheme to deceive patients, doctors and insurers about the safety of Subsys.

"Insys lied to insurers, concealed key facts from doctors and patients, and paid doctors sham 'speaker fees' in exchange for writing prescriptions, all in order to increase the sales of Subsys, without regard for the health and safety of patients," Brnovich charged. "Insys made hundreds of millions of dollars from its deceptive scheme, but also put countless patients in harm's way, exposing them to unacceptable and unnecessary risks of addiction and death."

Brnovich is using the state's Consumer Fraud Act to ask a judge to block Insys and its employees from engaging in unfair, deceptive or misleading acts. That allows him to demand the Chandler-based company to both pay restitution to consumers who should never have been prescribed the drug as well as force the company to surrender all of its profits from what Brnovich says is the company's illegal practices.

No date has been set for a hearing in that case. An aide to Brnovich said the federal criminal charges should not interfere with the Arizona case.