Dayton teacher fired for ‘dragging’ kindergartner across gym

Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 @ 3:44 PM

A Dayton Public Schools teacher was accused of dragging a student.

A Dayton Public Schools teacher was terminated after he reportedly “grabbed a student by the wrist during gym class at Rosa Parks Early Learning Center, twisted his arm, and dragged him across the gym floor,” according to a letter detailing the district’s accusations.

David Cameron was accused of dragging the kindergarten boy “on or about” Nov. 28, 2016, according to a March 15 letter DPS Treasurer Hiwot Abraha wrote Cameron detailing the specifications of the grounds for termination.

The school board approved a resolution to terminate Cameron during Tuesday night’s meeting. Attempts to reach Cameron for this story at a telephone number listed online were not successful.

MORE: DPS lowers GPA for sports eligibility, adds mandatory tutoring

The Dayton Daily News obtained the letter using Ohio’s public records laws.

“The kindergarten student expressed that you were hurting him, yet you did not release him,” the letter states. “On Feb, 23, 2017, you were present at an administrative hearing regarding the charges and specifications surrounding this matter. It was noted in the hearing that you have been counseled previously regarding appropriate student disciplinary procedures.”

MORE: Dayton school board accepts teachers’ contract

Cameron initially requested a hearing before a referee appointed by the Ohio Department of Education, according to the resolution from the meeting. But the document says Cameron “withdrew his request and waived any right to a hearing” before the Aug. 2 meeting.

Cameron was placed on leave for several months after the incident.

A 2014-15 staff roster for Fairview PreK-8 School lists Cameron as a physical education teacher. A 2016-17 staff roster lists Cameron as the physical education teacher at Rosa Parks ELC.

Cameron earned $65,006 in base compensation in 2016, according to the Dayton Daily News I-Team Payroll Project.

Kings racist jerseys incident: Where do things stand now?

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 2:12 PM

            Kings Schools Superintendent Tim Ackermann told this news outlet Tuesday that systemic - but not yet detailed - changes are coming to Kings to better foster racial and other diversity sensitivity for students, school staffers and the community at large.
Kings Schools Superintendent Tim Ackermann told this news outlet Tuesday that systemic - but not yet detailed - changes are coming to Kings to better foster racial and other diversity sensitivity for students, school staffers and the community at large.

The story of racist basketball jerseys that drew national media attention continues to shake up the Kings school community with Tuesday’s resignation of a school board member, setting up a scenario for a new member joining the district’s governing board.

MORE: Racist basketball jerseys and teacher’s ‘lynching’ remark have Kings, Mason schools in controversy

Former Kings Board of Education Vice President Kerry McKiernan did not attend the final public meeting of his term where fellow members voted 4-0 to accept his resignation.

McKiernan had earlier cited his own failure in stopping some of the boys on the recreational league basketball team – not affiliated with Kings — from wearing jerseys with names that appeared to slur African-Americans.

MORE: Kings board member’s emotional announcement about resigning

Kings officials promised at their meeting Tuesday that major changes are coming to improve racial and diversity awareness among the 4,300-student district in southern Warren County’s Deerfield township.

Here are five things you know about where the controversial issue stands:

Changes are coming to Kings: Kings Superintendent Tim Ackermann told this news outlet Tuesday that systemic - but not yet detailed - changes are coming to Kings to better foster racial and other diversity sensitivity for students, school staffers and the community at large.

Controversy has caused change to the board: By no later than Feb. 9 - more likely Jan. 31 - the four-member Kings school board will have a new member filling McKiernan’s seat. The board Tuesday went into executive session - as allowed under Ohio school law’s provisions for school boards pertaining to personnel matters - to discuss their interview questions for applicants.

Applications are due Jan. 24 for the school-board seat: The board has decided to interview all eligible candidates who file an online application for the board seat. The application is expected to be posted on the Kings website later today. The deadline for filing an application is 4 p.m. Jan. 24.

How the new member will be chosen: Applicants must be at least 18 years old, residents of the Kings School district and registered voters. The board’s choice of a new member will be made during a public vote on Jan. 31, and the chosen applicant will serve out the remainder of McKiernan’s four-year term to December 2019.

Diversity committee will work with officials: An existing Kings diversity committee, whose members include some minority school parents, will work with district officials in formulating new programs and activities designed to improve racial sensitivity in the school system.

Lack of revenue leads to deficits for WSU athletics

Published: Friday, July 15, 2016 @ 3:30 PM
Updated: Friday, July 15, 2016 @ 3:30 PM

WSU athletics budget

Our reporters closely watch your tax dollars. For past stories on Wright State University and other I-Team stories see

Wright State spends less per athlete than any Ohio public university offering Division I sports, but paltry revenue totals have caused its athletic department to operate at a deficit for nine straight years.

The Dayton Daily News examined the athletic budget in the wake of the financial struggles that are causing the university to cut nearly $20 million from its two-year operating budget.

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Some faculty members have called on the administration to scale back its commitment to the athletic programs, which have received subsidies from the university totaling $104.6 million since 2002.

Enough is enough, says Rudy Fichtenbaum, a retired WSU economics professor and current president of the American Association of University Professors, the faculty union.

In a letter to WSU Vice President of Finance Jeff Ulliman, Fichtenbaum said: “It is absolutely an outrage that the administration is cutting positions that are going to directly affect the quality of the academic programs that we offer to students while continuing to shovel money into the bottomless pit known as intercollegiate athletics.”

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Wright State administrators defend the spending on athletics, saying it’s a huge benefit to the university.

“We’re very responsible in terms of budget,” said Dan Abrahamowicz, WSU Vice President for Student Affairs. “The athletics program brings so much to this university that is hard to quantify with dollars and cents. The value goes well beyond the cost, it seems to me.”

Subsidies are common

The practice of subsidizing college athletics through student fees or general funds is not unusual. In fact, Ohio State is the only self-supporting university in the state — and one of just two-dozen across the nation — that operates without subsidies, according to a USA Today database of athletic finances at public universities.

But the boost Wright State provides is significant. About 78 percent of its athletic revenue comes from the institution, according to WSU’s most recent annual report, and in the last decade those subsidies have increased by 34 percent.

Statewide, only Cleveland State University sports are more reliant on cash infusions from the administration. Wright State doesn’t have football, which drives revenue — and spending — at many schools.

Not everyone wants to cut the athletic budget, which this year is $10.3 million. That’s less than what it was two years ago.

Professor emeritus Lawrence Prochaska chaired the University Athletic Council for three years and headed up a committee that reviewed the athletic department budget last year. He said Wright State compares favorably with fellow Horizon League members and other Ohio universities when the expensive sport of football is taken out of the equation.

“We told the academic senate that we thought the (budget) overrun is due to under-funding of athletics,” Prochaska said. “It’s not due to capricious financial expenditures.

“We concluded that they should give (WSU athletic director) Bob Grant a hard budget and make him live with it. They have to decide what that budget is.”

Other Ohio schools

All the athletic programs in the state are dwarfed by Ohio State, whose $167 million athletics program is carried on the backs of its football and basketball teams. OSU is part of the so-called “Power Five” conferences that enjoy lucrative television contracts. Even after OSU spent $9.8 million on team travel, $1.9 million on recruiting, $28 million on coaches’ salaries and $27.6 million on support staff in 2015, it still made enough money to send $38 million back to the university’s general fund.

But it is a different story elsewhere in Ohio. The state’s other 10 Division I college athletics programs collectively received about $160 million in university subsidies in 2015, according to state audits. The University of Cincinnati had the lowest percentage of revenue coming from its administration — 41 percent of the $52.5 million it took in.

The University of Akron provided the most money to athletics — $22.1 million — followed closely by Cincinnati ($21.7 million) and Miami University ($21.2 million).

The University of Toledo operated at a deficit in 2015, going $3.8 million in the red. Toledo and Wright State ($985,520) were the only Ohio Division I schools to report deficits.

Value vs. cost

Wright State did match OSU in one respect: It was the only other Ohio Division I school to shrink per-athlete spending, cutting expenses by 4 percent since 2009 and spending an average of $38,747 per athlete in 2014.

WSU offers 16 varsity sports.

Wright State’s athletic budget was about $10.7 million in the fiscal year ending in June 2015, the most recent figures available from the state. That accounted for about 3 percent of the university’s total budget.

An NCAA report released two years ago found that non-football Division I schools spent, on average, 6 percent of their overall budgets on athletics.

Abrahamowicz said last year’s athletics budget was $10.2 million, and the proposed budget for the fiscal year that began this month is $10.3 million.

Grant points out that WSU’s 300-some student-athletes paid $1.3 million in tuition to the university last year. Only athletes in men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball receive full scholarships.

“From the time I took over eight years ago, my charge has been to spend as little as possible while delivering as successful as possible a mid-major program as we can,” Grant said. “I think we’re doing fine. We want to do better; we need to do better.”

Martin Kich, president of the faculty union at Wright State, said there is a double standard at the school, with the academic units asked to cut their budgets while athletics is merely pressured to not overrun its budget.

“That’s ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous,” he said. “You’re sending the message that athletics is more important than academics. Very clearly.”

‘Crucial draw’

The push and pull between those who want more athletic spending and those who want less is not unusual for a mid-major school like Wright State.

Abrahamowicz said the university needs to define exactly what it wants from its athletics program, and fund it accordingly.

“Certainly, athletics overspends its budget, and something’s got to be done with that in the long-term,” Abrahamowicz said. But, he said, “There is no sentiment around here to not be Division I, except among some who aren’t happy with athletics.”

Koty Johnson, a WSU senior majoring in accounting and finance, said Division I sports are crucial for students seeking the quintessential college experience.

“Me and a group of my buddies go to just about every home basketball game and try to make it out to a couple of soccer games and baseball games each year,” said Johnson, vice president of the Wright State student body.

He acknowledged, though, that he isn’t aware of the cost: “I’m not 100 percent sure, honestly, about how much of my tuition goes to intercollegiate athletics.”

Grant is counting on new men’s basketball coach Scott Nagy to provide a revenue boost for the university, saying, “Our best chance for success financially really starts and ends with men’s basketball.”

Men’s basketball ticket sales, donations and corporate sponsorships accounted for more than $600,000 in 2015. That did not even cover the cost of the team’s scholarships and its $275,000 travel tab.

While the Nutter Center seats 10,500, on average just 4,355 fans attended the Raiders’ home games this past season, which is slightly below the national average of 4,744 for Division I programs.

WSU fired its coach, Billy Donlon, after the season and hired Nagy away from South Dakota State, paying him more than twice what it paid Donlon.

‘Day of reckoning’

University administrators and boosters often insist that sports programs drive enrollment, add to campus life, provide valuable opportunities for student-athletes, and help fundraising and marketing, said Ohio University Associate Professor of Sports Administration B. David Ridpath.

But athletic success can both be fleeting and expensive, said Ridpath. Perhaps the worst scenario is to be the Cinderella team in the NCAA basketball tournament because boosters, fans and administrators believe that such success can be repeated and pressure mounts to spend and build more, he said.

“That’s what drives a school like Wright State. They tend to think that being a Division I program and having that chance of getting on the cover of USA Today and being on ESPN will somehow enhance the entire university,” Ridpath said. “Really, research is pretty clear that while there might be some short-term gains in enrollment, fundraising, brand recognition, it usually trickles off after a year or so.”

Because of the costs involved, Ridpath believes the “day of reckoning” is here and more schools will do what the University of Idaho did and drop out of Division I.

“I think other schools should really consider that,” he said. “I think they’ll find it will have not one iota of the negative effect on the university. In fact, I think net gains will be positive.”

Hamilton coach accused of sexual contact worked for other schools

Published: Friday, January 12, 2018 @ 3:57 PM

A Hamilton High School teacher is charged with sex crimes involving a student.

The teacher and volleyball coach accused of having sexual contact with a Hamilton Schools student worked less than a year with the Butler County district and previously worked in a Hamilton County high school and for a religious community center.

That’s according to documents obtained through an Ohio Public Records request by this news organization.

MORE: Hamilton teacher faces sex charges involving student

Suspended Hamilton High School teacher and coach Hilary Dattilo was hired for the current 2017-18 school year last spring and started her job teaching science and working as a girls volleyball coach in August 2017.

The alleged crimes involve a female student, and the alleged encounters occurred off school property, according to Hamilton police.

Previously, the Mason High School and Walsh University graduate worked as a long-term substitute science teacher at Colerain High School — in northern Hamilton County’s Northwest Schools — from September 2016 until the end of last school year.


» DETAILS: Teacher’s ‘lynch’ comment to black student earns reprimand

» School board member resigns over controversial jersey names with racial slurs

Prior, the 30-year-old Dattilo worked as a substitute instructor at Cincinnati Hebrew Day School from 2014 to 2016 and was employed at the Mayerson Jewish Community Center’s (JCC) aquatics program.

Marc Fisher, chief executive officer for center, recently sent a notice to members stating: “Ms. Dattilo is a former employee of the JCC who more recently taught swim lessons at the Mayerson JCC while employed by our third-party service provider …. and she is no longer permitted on the Mayerson JCC’s premises.”

Fisher wrote: “During her employment, the Mayerson JCC conducted a criminal background check on Ms. Dattilo, most recently in the spring of 2016, which did not reveal any problem. We are not aware of any inappropriate conduct that occurred in connection with Ms. Dattilo during her employment with either the Mayerson JCC or in connection with the Mayerson JCC.”

Dattilo was arraigned earlier this week in Butler County Common Pleas Court on one count of sexual battery, a third-degree felony, and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Police said parents reported a possible inappropriate relationship between Dattilo and a student.

Dattilo did not respond to phone messages seeking her comments.

A review of her personnel file at Hamilton Schools showed no entries of violations of school district policy, though she is now on unpaid administrative leave, and the Hamilton Board of Education is scheduled to vote on her possible job termination next month.

Hamilton School officials have declined to comment regarding Dattilo’s pending case beyond an initial statement from district Spokeswoman Joni Copas, who said: “As a result of an ongoing investigation conducted collaboratively with the Hamilton City Police Department, the Hamilton City School District has placed a teacher at Hamilton High School on administrative leave pending termination proceedings.

“Simply put, we will not tolerate behavior that places our children in jeopardy.”

Contained in Dattilo’s personnel file is a Dec. 19 letter to her from the Hamilton school board ordering her to stay off Hamilton School properties, away from district events and to have no contact with students, school parents or school staffers.

The sexual battery charge is alleged to have occurred between Nov. 1 and Nov. 22 and the contributing charge between Oct. 1 and Dec. 18, according to the direct indictment handed down by a Butler County grand jury on Monday.

Dattilo, of Monroe, turned herself into police. At arraignment Tuesday she pleaded not guilty and was given a $5,000 bond with the ability to post 10 percent. She was taken into custody by order of Magistrate Harold Reed.

A pre-trial hearing for Dattilo is scheduled for Feb. 8 before Judge Noah Powers.

DETAILS: Teacher’s ‘lynch’ comment to black student earns reprimand

Published: Thursday, January 11, 2018 @ 7:20 PM

            A white Mason Middle School teacher has been reprimanded by district officials for telling an African-American boy in her class last month that he would be “lynched” by his classmates if he didn’t finish his school work. The teacher has also been ordered to attend cultural sensitivity training classes provided by Mason Schools.(Provided photo)
A white Mason Middle School teacher has been reprimanded by district officials for telling an African-American boy in her class last month that he would be “lynched” by his classmates if he didn’t finish his school work. The teacher has also been ordered to attend cultural sensitivity training classes provided by Mason Schools.(Provided photo)

The white Mason Middle School teacher who told an African-American student his classmates would “lynch” him if he didn’t do his school work was reprimanded Thursday, ordered into cultural sensitivity training and may be fired if it happens again.

According to documents released by Mason Schools, middle school teacher Renee Thole was told in a letter from district officials that “comments that make reference to harming a student are not appropriate even in jest.”

“Especially when they make reference to lynching an African-American male student. Regardless of the context this is especially insensitive given the context of race in our American history,” wrote Principal Tonya McCall in the Jan. 11 letter.

MORE: Mason, Kings schools scramble after racist incidents

“Be advised that future instances of problems in the areas we have discussed may warrant further disciplinary action to be taken against you that may lead to termination of your employment,” McCall wrote.

The student told his mother about the classroom exchange last month, and the story has since drawn national attention.

The teacher’s class was studying early American history, and McCall’s reprimand letter further states Thole – a veteran teacher with the Warren County district – later told district officials her choice of words was insensitive “and understood why they were not appropriate even if they were in context of what you had been studying in class.”

According to statements made to Mason school officials, Thole said she told the boy he was “off task” and told him to get to work.

“Approximately 10 minutes later, he still was off task … Your classmates are tired of you costing them points,” she stated.

“When you come in tomorrow without your homework completed, you (sic) classmates are going to be angry and then become a mob who will want to lynch you,” according to the teacher’s statement.

The boy then said such a statement was racist, according to Thole.

“I immediately stopped working with my small group … and said ‘I’m so sorry. I did not mean that the way it came out,’” she wrote.

Thole then said the black student said “It’s okay. I know you were joking.”

The next day Thole said she received a phone call from the boy’s mother, Tanisha Agee-Bell.

“She was very disappointed because I do not understand my impact on the culture toward African-American students,” according to her written account. “I replied that I understand and deeply apologize for my hurtful comment. It was a statement I said without thinking and there is not a good reason for my statement.”

The 13-year-old boy’s mother told Thole she should also apologize to the entire class. The boy has since been moved into another history class.

According to Thole’s statement to district officials, her apology to the class included telling her students “I made a comment the other day where I didn’t stop and think before I spoke.”

“As a result of that I deeply hurt a student and I regret that. Just because I never meant to hun (sic) anyone, doesn’t mean that didn’t happen, so —I’m sorry. If I had just taken two seconds to think before I used the word lynch, I would have not hurt a student. I didn’t think about all of the ugliness and horrible history surrounding that word before I used it. (I) am deeply sorry and I hope that you can forgive me.”

Both Thole and Agee-Bell were unavailable for comment.

According to the reprimand letter, Thole was ordered to: “Refrain from using remarks that make references to harming a student; contact parent(s) immediately when there is an issue in your classroom and participate in district directed culturally responsive practices training.”

Mason school officials have publicly promised – in a message sent to school parents Thursday – to further the district’s efforts in promoting racial and cultural sensitivity among staffers and students.