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Charter schools at center of complaints to Ohio Board of Ed

Updated: Friday, July 15, 2016 @ 11:51 AM
Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 @ 3:53 PM
By: Drew Simon

A Dayton charter school raided by the FBI last month now will be the center of an investigation by the Ohio Department of Education after allegations that included student sex acts, attendance rate falsification and test tampering.

Four former employees of the Dayton Horizon Science Academy, 250 Shoup Mill Road, testified in front of the department of education in Columbus on Tuesday and said students engaged in oral sex while others watched.

"I don't think parents had any idea what was going on at the school," said Kellie Kockensparger, who taught at the Dayton charter school for three years before leaving for another Dayton-area teaching job last March.

Kockensparger and another former employee, Richard Storrick, accused the school of allowing sexual activity to occur during classes and other school-related functions.

According to Kockensparger, the school "failed to tell parents that their kids were suspended for having oral sex outside of the building where they were supposed to be inside attending a school-sponsored after-school cultural festival."

The sex acts reportedly were captured on surveillance video, Kockensparger said.

Horizon Science Academy is a public charter school that provides its students with an innovative education, rich in math, science and technology, according to the school's website.

The Dayton Daily News received a written statement from Concept Schools, the parent organization that manages Horizon Science Academy, after the newspaper asked for comment.

"Like any public charter school, we are accountable to the families we serve. As part of that, we prioritize ensuring a school environment that is safe, professional and one that supports students, faculty and staff," the statement read. "As we move forward, we continue to maintain the highest standards of excellence for our students, our faculty and ourselves."

Storrick, who taught math for two-plus years there, said some students participated in a sex game during a middle school math class.

"A sex game was going on while the teacher was trying to teach," Storrick said. "More than once a male student put his hand on a girl's knee and asked, 'are you nervous?' "

If the female student said no, the male student would move his hand up her thigh.

"The game was not a one-time occurrence, yet the teacher did nothing, insisting he didn't know about the game. The school's director was told about the incident, did nothing and rehired the teacher the following year," Storrick said.

The nearly hour-long testimony left some of the state school board members disturbed.

"Inside, my blood is boiling," board member Deb Cain said. "We as a state board and as a department of education, we have got to get to the bottom of this, and every single allegation needs to be investigated to the fullest."

Board President Debe Terhar told the employees who testified that the state will take the allegations seriously.

"We hear you, we will move forward to make sure that this is investigated," Terhar said.

Other former employees, including teacher Tim Neary, said the school is covering up other issues.

"School administrators clearly lied about attendance. I never had a full class and they'd say the school had a 97 percent attendance rate," Neary said. " There was no oversight at all."

Neary also said the school potentially tampered with standardized tests.

"All the tests would go into one room, with an administrator behind a locked door. Nobody else got to see what was going on," Neary told the board.

Horizon Science Academy of Dayton is one of 19 schools in Ohio affiliated with an influential U.S.-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, and began operating under Concept Schools management in 1999.

On June 4 the FBI served a search warrant in connection to a "white-collar crime," but the bureau did not disclose any additional details about its investigation of the organization.

Cincinnati sees estimated 78 heroin overdoses in 2 days

Updated: Friday, August 26, 2016 @ 4:45 PM
Published: Friday, August 26, 2016 @ 11:00 AM
By: The Associated Press

Cincinnati police are asking for the public's help in trying to identify the source of the suspected heroin behind an estimated 78 overdoses in just two days.

Meanwhile, Hamilton County officials say they will seek funding for treatment and expanded response teams.

County officials are calling the latest onslaught of overdose cases a public health emergency, and county Health Commissioner Tim Ingram says the number of emergency-room incidents over the last six days was "unprecedented."

Emergency rooms estimate they had 174 suspected opioid overdose cases this week, including three deaths. Last year, accidental drug overdoses killed 3,050 people in Ohio, an average of eight per day, state officials say.

Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black said authorities suspect carfentanil, a drug used to sedate elephants and other large animals, may be mixed in with heroin and causing the overdoses. The drug is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which is suspected in spates of overdoses in several states.

Last month, carfentanil was discovered in the Cincinnati area's heroin stream, but many hospitals don't have the equipment to test blood for the previously uncommon animal opioid.

County Commissioner Dennis Deters said Thursday the expanded teams would include a law enforcement officer, an emergency responder and a specialist who could treat people who've overdosed. He said the cost of the beefed-up program hasn't been determined yet.

Nan Franks of the Addiction Services Council of Cincinnati noted that Cincinnati currently doesn't have enough places to treat the rising number of drug users who seek help.

"People overwhelmingly want help," she said. "But we have to have a place to take them."

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Local blood center to test donations for Zika

Updated: Friday, August 26, 2016 @ 2:41 PM
Published: Friday, August 26, 2016 @ 2:22 PM
By: Breaking News Staff

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended Friday that all blood donation centers across the country begin testing donations for Zika virus to protect the U.S. blood supply.

Dayton’s Community Blood Center said it will begin Zika testing to comply with the new recommendations by the FDA.

All whole blood and blood components donations in the U.S. and its territories are being recommended for testing.

The Community Blood Center applied in June for use of the investigational new drug (IND) authorized by the FDA as a blood screening test for Zika. At the time states with active Zika transmission held the highest priority for receiving the test and beginning screening.

Immediate testing is being recommended in states with one or more reported locally acquired mosquito-borne cases of Zika. Eleven southern and western states must begin testing as soon as feasible, but no later than four weeks (Sept. 23). All other states, including Ohio and Indiana, must begin testing as soon as feasible, but no later than 12 weeks (Nov. 18).

Community Blood Center in Dayton will continue the screening methods in place to defer potential donors who have traveled to Zika endemic areas in the prior four weeks. The list of active Zika transmission areas was recently expanded to include two Florida counties.

CBC is deferring potential donors for 28 days who have traveled to Florida’s Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County, as well as the Caribbean, Mexico and Central or South America.

CBC asks all donors to be aware that travel restrictions impact the available blood supply by further limiting the number of people able to donate. CBC encourages eligible donors to schedule appointments and donate when able.

“There is still much uncertainty regarding the nature and extent of Zika virus transmission,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “At this time, the recommendation for testing the entire blood supply will help ensure that safe blood is available for all individuals who might need transfusion.”

Toxic Brew Company to build production brewery along Great Miami River

Updated: Thursday, August 25, 2016 @ 5:14 PM
Published: Thursday, August 25, 2016 @ 2:59 PM
By: Mark Fisher - Staff Writer

Toxic Brew Company in Dayton’s Oregon District revealed today it has purchased riverfront land north of downtown to build a brewery and tap room that will boost production tenfold and pave the way for canning and bottling for retail sales.

The project includes plans for a tap room that will offer visitors a view of the Great Miami River to accompany their brew, founder Shane Juhl told us. The brewery also could host occasional festivals, Juhl said.

The project cost will likely exceed $1 million, Juhl said. That represents a significant investment in Old North Dayton, which has struggled in recent years with vacant industrial and commercial sites.

The 4.3-acre tract at the end of Janney Road is on the east side of the Great Miami River, north of Stanley Avenue and west of Troy Street. The view of the west riverbank includes a railroad trestle and the Great Miami River bike/recreation trail.

“I am excited,” Juhl said while giving a tour of the property to a reporter. “I believe this will be a destination spot where people will come to enjoy a beer while overlooking the Great Miami River.”

>> RELATED: Dayton’s craft beer walking trail is growing

Juhl looked at several existing structures before noticing the tract of land for sale north of downtown. The ability to build a facility from the ground up will give him the flexibility to design the brewery to his specifications, he said.

Plans call for a 13,000-square-foot production brewery constructed from concrete, steel and glass. Production will jump from the existing 600 barrels a year to 6,000, Juhl said. Among the first beers to be canned will be Toxic’s popular ISO Heaven IPA and Practice Yoga brews.

The brewery currently employs nine, a number that “probably will at least double” when the new brewery opens, Juhl said.

Construction is scheduled to start next spring, and if all goes well, “I’d like to be brewing in a year,” Juhl said.

The Oregon District tap room will remain open, and its brewery will focus on sours and farmhouse ales, Juhl said.

>> RELATED: Downtown Dayton brewery to double its taps, expand into cocktails

The brewery has signed a distribution agreement with Columbus-based Premium Beverage to distribute its beers throughout Ohio.

The project further advances the Dayton area’s brewing renaissance. More than a dozen breweries have opened in a region that had none five years ago. None have closed, and nearly all have expanded, some significantly. Warped Wing, Yellow Springs Brewery and Dayton Beer Company are all canning beer for retail sales throughout the Dayton area and beyond.

Logan County reports spike in diarrheal disease

Updated: Tuesday, August 23, 2016 @ 10:59 PM
Published: Friday, August 19, 2016 @ 5:46 PM
By: Breaking News Staff

UPDATE @ 4:45 p.m. (Aug. 19)

Logan County Health District officials report a rise in gastrointestinal illnesses linked to Cryptosporidiosis (crypto) cases spreading throughout Ohio.

One case has been confirmed and it’s under investigation where that person became infected, said Corinne Riegler, emergency planner and public information officer for the health district. However, many cases have been linked to swimming pools in central Ohio. Prevention is key to avoid the spread of this illness, Riegler said.

Columbus Public Health announced this week the number of cases in Franklin and Delaware counties has grown to 202, which prompted public pools and spray parks to close in Columbus and Dublin. The outbreak so far has more cases than the last four years combined, our media partner, CBS affiliate WBNS-TV reported.

Symptoms of crypto include: watery diarrhea; stomach cramps or pain; headache; dehydration; nausea/vomiting; low-grade fever and loss of appetite or weight loss.

Tips to avoid parasitic infections

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
  • Drink water from safe sources such as municipal water.
  • Wash all raw fruits and vegetables under running water from a safe source.
  • If possible, use a vegetable brush to scrub the outside of fruits and vegetables.
  • If camping/hiking and safe water is not available, boil water for 1 minute before drinking.
  • When swimming try not to swallow the water.
  • Be aware of water boil alerts and follow the recommendations.

 

Source: Ohio State University Extension

EARLIER (Aug. 11)

A dip in the pool is one way to beat the heat this hot, humid summer, but it also can spread illness.

Mother Amy Howard and her 2-year-old son have spent much time this summer at a public pool.

“We come here every day. We like to get out of the house and spend time out in the sun, and we have a great time,” said Howard, of Xenia. She keeps a close eye on her son to keep him safe in the water, but it’s what she doesn’t see that could make them both sick.

Cryptosporidiosis, or crypto, is a gastrointestinal illness is caused by a microscopic parasite and is most commonly spread through water. This year, Ohio has seen a 50 percent increase in cases, and officials in Central Ohio on Thursday declared an outbreak. Columbus Public Health reported 107 cases in Columbus, Franklin and Delaware counties, which is more cases than the health departments saw in the last three years combined.

The couple of cases so far this year in Greene County is typical, but public health nurse Amy Schmitt said that number could rise. “This organism is pretty hearty and it can continue to shed for a very long time.”

The best way to reduce risk is for people, especially children, to avoid ingesting pool water, and for anyone who is sick to stay out of the water.

“We want to make sure that if they’re sick, particularly with diarrhea, they really shouldn’t be swimming,” Schmitt said. “And if they’re diagnosed with this infection called crypto — and that’s done by lab test — they should not swim for two weeks after the diarrhea has stopped.”

In addition to swimming pools, crypto can be spread at splash pads, water parks, lakes, ponds, streams and rivers. The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for extended periods of time that also makes it tolerant to chlorine disinfection. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach pains and vomiting, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.