Charter schools at center of complaints to Ohio Board of Ed

Updated: Sunday, August 28, 2016 @ 4:52 PM
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.

OVI checkpoint underway in Dayton

Updated: Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 9:58 PM
By: Breaking News Staff

The Montgomery County OVI Task Force announced that an OVI checkpoint was set to begin at 9 p.m. tonight in the area of North Gettysburg Avenue and Kings Highway.

OVI checkpoints, funded by federal grant funds, are used deter and intercept impaired drivers.

Dayton officers will also conduct saturation patrols in conjunction with the announced checkpoint.

Police advise if you plan to consume alcohol, designate a driver or make other travel arrangements before drinking.


Race for 43rd House district has turned ugly

Updated: Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 6:59 PM
Published: Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 2:13 PM
By: Lynn Hulsey - Staff Writer

Race for 43rd House district has turned ugly
David Sparks and Jeff Rezabek (Staff Writer)

Democrat David Sparks of Clayton is seeking to unseat first-term state Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton, in one of the region’s most competitive statehouse races in a once-firmly Democratic district that became more evenly balanced in the 2012 redistricting.


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The race pits a Bernie Sanders-supporting businessman who advocates a higher minimum wage and green energy against a Republican attorney whose top priorities are advocating for the communities in the district and battling the region’s opiate addiction problem.

The district covers parts of Englewood, Clayton, Trotwood, western Montgomery County and all of Preble County. In a district with a political index that is about 51 percent Democrat and 49 percent Republican, Rezabek in 2014 unseated State Rep. Roland Winburn, D-Harrison Twp. In 2012, when President Barack Obama was on the ballot, Winburn won easily.

Rezabek previously ran unsuccessfully in 2012 for Montgomery County Juvenile Court judge.

Sparks, owner of, a digital development and e-commerce consulting firm, was a delegate for Sanders at the Democratic National Convention this summer in Philadelphia.

The Rezabek-Sparks race turned ugly this summer, with Rezabek supporters producing ads and a website calling Sparks “Creepy Dave” and saying he made inappropriate comments about girls and drugs in his online videos.

Sparks, in turn, accused Republicans of putting him in personal danger by falsely implying he was a pedophile and said his videos on subjects such as Planned Parenthood, drugs and prostate cancer were supposed to be informational, funny or both.

In a 2015 video Sparks, now 48, advocated against defunding Planned Parenthood and sang a song about putting his hand on a 14-year old girl’s breast when he was 14. He sang about how it made him want to have sex and argued that since teenagers think that way it would be a mistake for the state to cut funding for the planning family and women’s health services agency.

The Ohio Republican Party also held a news conference that Rezabek participated in this summer criticizing Sparks’ videos. Television ads paid for by the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee (OHROC) knock Sparks for his videos, state tax liens and a court judgment against him for accepting $25,814.58 from a bank for a certificate of deposit that was not his.

Sparks was sued by Fifth Third Bank after accepting the money in 2001 and was ordered to repay it, but the debt was discharged in 2010. He said he thought the money was his and that $5,523 in state tax liens were mistakes by the state except for $172.65 he paid in early October.

Dan Tierney, spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, confirmed that all but one tax lien is closed, but he said the office is in the midst of a computer update so he could not confirm that Sparks’ October payment cleared that final debt. Tierney also said he could not provide details about what taxes Sparks did or did not owe because it is not a public record.

Sparks sees the Republican attack ads as a sign that he’s making inroads with his low-budget campaign against Rezabek and says the TV ad is putting his name in front of people who might otherwise not have seen it.

“I think its ridiculous and I got a big chuckle out of it,” said Sparks, who estimated the cost of his campaign at less than $10,000. “I don’t think it’s hurting us.”

Rezabek said he has tried to distance himself from the mailers and TV ads even though he participated in the ORP news conference. He said the ads are not his doing, and that he wants to stay positive and talk about the issues.

“It’s about relationships, so if other entities are doing these things and my opponent may be trying to smear me as much as he can as well, what that does is I have to work harder to redevelop those relationships,” Rezabek said.

Jeff Rezabek

He said his work with families and juveniles as a Dayton attorney informs his job as a state legislator. He co-sponsored HB 410, a bill that passed the House and is in committee in the Senate, that would help children who are truant before charging them with delinquency.

He also was a sponsor of a bill that eased access to Naloxone, the drug that can reverse an opiate overdose, and supports more efforts to get people addiction treatment.

Rezabek said he has worked with Democrats on bills, including one dealing with kinship care, and has bucked his party when Republicans voted to de-fund Planned Parenthood. He said the family planning agency does good work in preventing pregnancy and providing needed women’s health care. He opposes abortion and is also a co-sponsor of the Heartbeat Bill, an anti-abortion effort that passed the House and is pending in the Senate.

Rezabek said the state should restore some of the funding that was cut from the Local Government Fund during the post-recession budget troubles to help communities fund infrastructure and other improvements. He said if there are going to be further state tax cuts they need to put money back into people’s pockets.

Rezabek would not answer whether he supports increasing the minimum wage but said raising the base would lead to further increases that will cost jobs.

“Then whatever number you pick — eight, ten, 15, 50 dollars — as a minimum wage, everything will adjust and then everyone will be saying that’s not enough either,” Rezabek said. “Because what happens is you lose jobs.”

He said he also would like to improve education funding and reform unemployment compensation and the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

“My philosophy is simple,” said Rezabek. “Is it good for the 43rd district? Is it good for the state of Ohio? (And) does it solve a problem.”

David Sparks

Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is a key campaign theme for Sparks. He said the nation’s economic recovery has left too many people behind.

“I’ve seen a general overall malaise in employment, well-paying employment specifically, which is one of the biggest challenges we face,” Sparks said.

He said there is no real evidence that raising the minimum wage leads to fewer jobs and he believes it would improve the economy.

“That spending goes into the economy,” Sparks said.”Republicans have it completely backwards as to how economies develop. They develop from the bottom up.”

Sparks wants to eliminate the tax abatements and job creation tax credits that are used to attract businesses, saying they lead to a loss in tax revenue for communities and schools and shift a larger share of the tax burden onto individuals.

He opposes the state’s privatization of economic development through JobsOhio, the non-profit corporation that was funded with state liquor profits.

Sparks also wants to ban hydraulic fracturing, an oil and gas extraction method known as “fracking,” and replace government subsidies to fossil fuel industries with support for solar farming and wind energy.

Sparks also opposes right-to-work laws and said people should have the right to form unions. He believes marijuana should be completely legal and be regulated like alcohol. Drug addiction should be decriminalized and addicts treated as patients, Sparks said.

Sparks also wants the state to restore cuts made to the local government fund and improve school funding, particularly to reduce class sizes.

He supports a woman’s right to choose abortion.

A major issue for Sparks is removing money from politics. He supports convening a Convention of the States to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

“People realize that the entire political system is bought and paid for by multimillionaire interests,” Sparks said. “I would expect a democracy to serve citizens fairly and equally.”



Jeff Rezabek

Age: 47

Party: Republican

Home: Clayton

Job: member Ohio House of Representatives 43rd District and attorney

Education: University of Dayton, bachelor’s in psychology and juris doctor

David Sparks

Age: 48

Party: Democrat

Home: Clayton

Job: Owner

Education: Bachelor’s in liberal studies Wright State University

Reports: AT&T reaches $80B deal for CNN parent Time Warner

Updated: Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 5:30 PM
Published: Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 5:15 PM
By: Breaking News Staff

            Reports: AT&T reaches $80B deal for CNN parent Time Warner
CNN is part of the Time Warner empire. RODNEY HO / RHO@AJC.COM

In a deal with implications for Atlanta-based Turner’s many television properties, AT&T has reached a agreement to acquire Time Warner, multiple media outlets reported Saturday.

Both companies are expected to announce the purchase as early as Saturday evening, the Wall Street Journal reported.

AT&T is expected to pay between $105 a share and $110 a share per Time Warner share in cash and stock, reports said. The deal reportedly is worth $80 billion, perhaps more.

Turner properties include CNN, HLN, TNT and TBS. A little under half of Turner’s employees – about 6,000 – are based in Atlanta, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution has reported .

The deal likely would bring strong scrutiny from regulators, the Washington Post reported , because of its potential effect on competitors.

In fact, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke out against the merger.

“As an example of the power structure I am fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN — a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” Trump said at a speech in Gettysburg, Pa.

Elderly woman has hard fall chasing Target purse-snatcher

Updated: Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 4:51 PM
By: Breaking News Staff

Miami Twp. police are asking the public to help find a man they say robbed an elderly woman in a Target parking lot Thursday.

In surveillance video from the store at 2300 Miamisburg Centerville Road, a man can be seen approaching the woman and grabbing her purse before running away.

The woman attempts to run after the man and after a few steps falls in the parking lot.

Police said the man appears to have numerous tattoos on his arms and legs and was last seen leaving the store in a gold and silver 2-door car.

Anyone recognizing the man in the video is asked to contact Detective Dan Wessling at the Miami Township Police Department at 937-531-4046.