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Dayton plan would close elementary school, study closing high school

Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2018 @ 3:33 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2018 @ 7:13 PM

DPS talk about school closures

Valerie Elementary, the Innovative Learning Center and Dayton Public Schools headquarters building would all close this fall, if Dayton’s school board adopts the recommendations presented Tuesday by Acting Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli.

Those first steps were part of a three-year plan that included the possibility of more closings in the future, at both the elementary school and high school levels.

RELATED: Dayton residents offer feedback on school priorities

Lolli also recommended consolidating the district’s seventh and eighth-graders, who are currently spread across seven different schools, into four buildings. Stivers would remain a school for seventh- through 12th-graders, but all other seventh- and eighth-graders would attend the three middle schools – Wogaman, Wright Brothers and E.J. Brown.

Asked Tuesday night whether the school board would be ready to vote on the detailed plan by the March 20 meeting, as originally planned, Harris said that is not a sure thing.

“We feel good about the recommendations. A lot of work went into it and the analysis is good,” Harris said. “It may not be (next week). The important thing is that we are processing that information and continuing to listen to our community.”

RELATED: Lolli to present recommendation; court challenge pending

Lolli said after meeting with parents from all nine of the lowest-enrolled schools, she understands the pride and connection many residents have with their schools. But she also said hard decisions would be made.

“There’s a very uneven education offered right now to our seventh and eighth-graders,” Lolli said, mentioning that some are in schools with kindergartners and others with high school seniors. “We need to focus in on seventh- and eighth-grade education, and the supports they need.”

Lolli’s recommendation suggests adding an assistant principal and a counselor or social worker to each of the three middle schools. Each of those schools would offer algebra, Spanish, STEM opportunities and after-school clubs.

RELATED: Dayton schools task force speeds up timeline

** Lolli recommended that Valerie – a 50-year-old school with maintenance problems – be closed and demolished, with those students moving to the nearby Meadowdale Elementary school, which would get an extra assistant principal. She said about 100 Meadowdale students would have to move to a school closer to their home.

** She recommended closing the district’s large, under-used headquarters building on Ludlow Street, citing more than $2 million in needed heating and air conditioning work, among other needs. Lolli said the district’s administrative staff could fit in an office building the district owns across the street, referred to as “Ludlow 2.”

** Lolli recommended closing the Innovative Learning Center at Jackson Center on Abbey Avenue and working with the city to repurpose that site. The ILC houses some of the district’s alternative education and in-lieu-of-suspension programs, which Lolli said would fit in the Ludlow 2 building.

RELATED: DPS task force stops tour after legal challenge

** The superintendent said the school district should begin a review of its high school offerings, both in academics and geography, with the possibility of turning Meadowdale and/or Dunbar into a specialty school, such as for gifted students.

But she also mentioned the possibility that a high school could be closed by fall 2020. She mentioned Dunbar, Thurgood Marshall, Belmont and Meadowdale as possibilities. Ponitz, the career tech school, and Stivers, the arts school, were not mentioned.

** Lolli said after meeting with parents of two under-enrolled schools — Dayton Boys Prep and World of Wonder — those school and parent communities will be given a chance to recruit and build up enrollment numbers. But the possibility of closure in a future year would remain if enrollment didn’t grow.

RELATED: School safety forum has focus on mental health issues

Lolli said DPS officials tried to gather as much information as possible before making a decision, mentioning task force meetings, school board meetings, two open community sessions and meetings with parents of all of the lowest-enrolled schools. She said the district also considered report card and school discipline data, among other markers.

But the first public commenters at Tuesday’s meeting were not impressed. David Greer said Lolli’s presentation – detail-heavy in small print with no handout – was hard to follow. Hashim Jabar questioned why the district was putting the burden of school closures on West Dayton students who he said need the most help. David Esrati said the district has to give parents stability rather than making annual changes. And Mary Sue Gmeiner urged the district to focus on improvement so families will come back to DPS, rather than closing schools.

RELATED: District AD, Dunbar principal placed on leave

Harris said the district is aiming for the best long-term structure for its students, and he hopes DPS doesn’t lose students or staff in the short-term turmoil of changes.

“Any decision you make, you’re going to have two different sides, or maybe three or four,” Harris said. “We’re trying to do what’s best for Dayton Public Schools and what’s best for our students. Our major concern is academic achievement and excellence, and that’s what we’re trying to do for our students as we right-size the district, so we will have adequate resources in all of our buildings so that our young people will have a quality education.”

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Pursuit driver accused of causing crash identified

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 1:16 PM

Several cars involved in wreck

UPDATE @ 9:17 a.m. (March 22):

A Dayton police report and crash report identified the driver accused of fleeing from police and causing a crash at the intersection of James H. McGee Boulevard and West Third Street Wednesday.

Benjamin McDonald, 36, was arrested following the chase and police are pursuing charges of aggravated vehicular assault and failure to comply charges, according to a Dayton police report.

OTHER NEWS: Officers descend on Dayton neighborhood following multi-city chase

McDonald was driving without a valid driver’s license, a crash report showed.

Police said McDonald had fled from them multiple times previously and had several previous arrests in the city.

UPDATE @ 2:54 p.m. (March 21):

A passenger in a suspect vehicle who was ejected from the vehicle in a crash during a pursuit is in critical condition, police said.

Officer began pursuing the vehicle in the area of Salem Avenue and Catalpa Drive in Dayton before 1 p.m. after a Dayton police Sgt. spotted it, authorities said.

Police said the suspect vehicle had fled from officers six times in the past, including once today prior to the afternoon pursuit.

OTHER NEWS: Officers descend on Dayton neighborhood following multi-city chase

Investigators said during the pursuit the suspect vehicle ran a red light at James H. McGee Boulevard and West Third Street, causing a crash involving four other vehicles.

The driver of the suspect vehicle was taken to the hospital with injuries not believed to be life threatening, police said.

Police said the driver had several previous arrests for alleged crimes in the city.


Multiple medics have been called to the scene of a reported crash in the area of James H. McGee and West Third Street in Dayton.

Initial reports indicated the crash occurred while police were chasing a vehicle in the area around 1 p.m.

We’re working to learn more.

Accident James H McGee third Street

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Who is Mark Anthony Conditt, the suspected Austin bomber?

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 9:57 AM
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 12:07 PM

VIDEO: Who is Mark Anthony Conditt, the Suspected Austin Bomber?

The suspected Austin serial bomber who killed himself early Wednesday as authorities closed in on him was Pflugerville resident Mark A. Conditt, local and federal law enforcement sources told the American-Statesman and KVUE.


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Girl, bored with sister’s soccer game, makes 65-million-year-old fossil find

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 9:01 AM

FILE PHOTO (Makro_Wayland/Pixabay license:
FILE PHOTO (Makro_Wayland/Pixabay license:

An Oregon girl decided digging in the dirt was more her speed than watching her big sister’s JV soccer game. And that decision turned into a major discovery.

Naomi Vaughan found something that she called her “Moana rock” after it reminded her of the Heart of Te Fiti from the hit Disney film, last year, CNN reported.

The “Moana rock” turned out to be something that dated back at least 65 million years.

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It was actually an ancient fossil called an ammonite. Ammonites are extinct marine invertebrates, CNN reported.

Paleontologists told Oregon Live that they’re not normally found in Bend, but have been discovered more than 80 miles away.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

One paleontologist believes it came from an area further away, a town of Suplee, 112 miles east of Bend, Oregon Live reported. He believes that either there was a family connection between the two towns or that the fossil came from a school collection. 

And while well-preserved ammonite fossils can fetch big bucks -- up to thousands of dollars, Vaughan’s sample may be worth about $10 or $20.

Vaughan plans on keeping her find, Oregon Live reported.


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2 charged after woman found being eaten alive by maggots, police say

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 4:03 AM

Woman Found Being Eaten Alive By Maggots, 2 Charged

A Georgia woman was found covered in cockroaches and maggots, bedridden on a sheet smeared in feces, a police report says. 

Her caretakers and family members, 54-year-old Terry Ward Sorrells and 18-year-old Christian Alexander Sorrells, have both been charged with neglect of a disabled adult or elder person

>> On Cops: Home invaders tie up woman and son, steal jewelry

Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services responded to the Sugar Hill home where the woman lived with Terry Sorrells and Christian Sorrells on March 15 after receiving a call for medical assistance. The woman was unresponsive but still alive, the report says.

The AJC is not identifying the woman because she is an alleged victim of neglect.

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When the fire crew arrived, they said they saw that maggots and roaches were eating the woman’s flesh and her legs were “completely black and showing signs of decomposition.” They had transported her a month earlier with a “mega mover” — a tarp-like object used by emergency medical technicians to move obese patients — and she was sitting on the same mega mover, now “completely brown and black” and covered in feces. The fire crew called police because “they did not believe she would live much longer and felt a moral obligation to report this,” the report says.

The living conditions inside the home on Pine Tree Circle were “deplorable,” the responding officer said in his report. The officer was “overwhelmed with the smell of human feces and garbage” when he walked into the house, and roaches were crawling on the walls and ceiling of “every single room,” the report says. Garbage lined the floor from the entryway to the kitchen, and covered the floor of the bathroom. In Terry Sorrells’ bedroom, there was a two-foot-high pile of empty Monster energy drink cans, with garbage piled in a closet and covering a dresser, the report says. 

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Terry Sorrells had gone with the woman in an ambulance before the officer arrived, but Christian Sorrells remained at the house. He told the officer that the woman had been bedridden for one or two years and had been progressively getting worse; she had been admitted into a long-term care facility, but returned home after Medicaid would not cover the cost, the report says. Christian Sorrells also told the officer that no one in the house worked. 

Christian Sorrells was transported to Gwinnett County police headquarters and Terry Sorrells was arrested later that day. Both were booked into the Gwinnett County Detention Center after 10 p.m. March 15. They remain in jail, each held on a $22,200 bond. 

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