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Published: Thursday, December 21, 2017 @ 7:37 PM
Updated: Thursday, December 21, 2017 @ 11:15 PM
SPRINGFIELD — The Northwestern Local Schools superintendent was placed on administrative leave tonight following an investigation one parent called a “witch hunt.”
The Board of Education voted 3-1 to place Superintendent Jesse Steiner on paid leave. Board member Russell Steele voted against putting Steiner on leave.
They then appointed Lori Swafford acting superintendent. She is the principal of the Northwestern Jr./Sr. High School.
The Board of Education read a statement to a room filled with upset parents. They said the investigation was finished, but would not reveal what they found.
“The board focused on Mr. Steiener’s alleged misconduct when interacting with others on the job and whether or not he was maintaining the high standards of professional conduct we expect from staff,” member Andy Gundolf said, speaking on behalf of the board.
Steiner makes more than $125,000 a year, according to his personnel file. He was last at work Nov. 27, when he was told to stay off district property. Gundolf said the investigation was not of a sexual or criminal nature, but that the board could not elaborate further until Steiner was made aware of the allegations.
Many people attended the regular board meeting Thursday at the Northwestern Elementary School library, including Steiner’s wife and two daughters.
“If they made a decision, let our superintendent know so we as a community can move on,” David Bischoff said.
Jay Skrabacz told the board during the public comment part of the meeting that he felt they were being unfair and called the investigation a “witch hunt.”
“When you look at Mr. Steiner, he has done amazing things for this district. The kids love him. He reads to gradeschool kids on a weekly basis. He's here all the time," he said.
Steiner’s wife said they have not heard anything from the board during its investigation, and that once they hear from the board’s attorney they may speak about the incident.
Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 11:47 AM
Updated: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 5:13 PM
HAMILTON — Butler County’s only Catholic high school is expanding this year to better handle its growing enrollment.
This week, officials at Badin High School released more details about the school’s first campus expansion since 2006, including a $1.8 million construction project that will add a new “Student Development Center.”
“The new Student Development Center is another example of Badin making effective strides to enhance our facilities,” said Dirk Allen, spokesman for Badin High School.
“We’re very excited about it. Classes, facilities, opportunities for students, all of that comes together to create an outstanding educational experience for the Badin student body,” said Allen.
Construction on the new, one-story, 8,000-square-foot center will begin this summer and is projected to be done by Christmas.
Allen said the new center “will feature a student commons for use before, during and after school meetings, group projects and a much needed study space. The guidance office will vacate a classroom in the school building and will move to the new Hamilton Community Foundation College and Career Center – a state-of-the-art facility with computer work stations and a meeting space for colleges to meet with students.”
“Our enrollment continues to grow. We were at 449 students in 2009-2010, (and) our enrollment has grown every year since then. We are at 575 this year and expect to be over 600 next year,” he said.
“The building project will be very helpful (and) students will no longer have to walk outside between the main building and the Pfirman Center in inclement weather.”
The new center will also allow two former classrooms - converted into office space - to return to instructional spaces.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 11:12 AM
MASON — A racist, social media message sent to some African-American students at Mason Middle School prompted school officials to send a notice to school parents.
The Snapchat message was received this week by a handful of black students in the Warren County school and it comes in the wake of a recent racial incident where a Mason teacher at the same school was suspended for telling a black student his classmates “lynch” him if he didn’t complete his class work.
In a notice sent Tuesday to Mason Middle School (MMS) parents, Principal Tonya McCall wrote: “Today, we received a tip that several African-American students received an offensive Snapchat message. We reported the message to our School Resource Officer, and will continue to investigate who might have sent it.”
“As many of you may be aware, an MMS teacher recently made an offensive remark to an African-American student. We know that there is no explanation or defense that would make such a comment appropriate. We are working to do what is right — apologize, make amends, and take steps to be better.”
McCall continued and wrote: “We know that racial incidents don’t just hurt the students of color in our schools — they hurt all of our students and staff. We believe that our diversity strengthens our school and community.”
On Saturday Mason school officials announced Middle School teacher Renee Thole would be suspended for her December remark to the black student in addition to being reprimanded and ordered to take cultural sensitivity training.
The incident drew national attention and Mason district officials have responded with promises to re-new its exiting efforts and programs to improve racial sensitivity in the predominately white school system of 11,000-students.
Mason Superintendent Gail Kist-Kline sent a message to “Mason City Schools Families” on Saturday with the subject line “Mason Schools Response to Teacher’s Comment” after the story about the teacher gained national attention.
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 2:12 PM
DEERFIELD TWP. — 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.
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.
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.
Published: Friday, January 12, 2018 @ 3:57 PM
HAMILTON — 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.
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.
MORE CONTROVERSIAL SCHOOLS NEWS
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.