DPS approves $575K in raises, ousts principal despite public outcry

Published: Tuesday, May 15, 2018 @ 11:09 PM


            Ruskin school principal Jennifer Dearwester (second from left) talks with supporters at Dayton’s April school board meeting. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF
Ruskin school principal Jennifer Dearwester (second from left) talks with supporters at Dayton’s April school board meeting. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Dayton’s school board approved two types of raises Tuesday — a new, higher salary schedule for administrators and a 3 percent raise retroactive to July for all administrators and other non-union staff.

Dayton Public Schools Treasurer Hiwot Abraha said the 3 percent retroactive raise will cost about $299,126 for the current school year, and the first-year impact of the new salary schedule will be about $276,858 for 2018-19.

LAST WEEK: DPS plans raises, but says levy is likely in near future

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According to a salary benchmarking study prepared for Dayton schools by Hanover Research, DPS had the lowest average administrator salary of Ohio’s “big 8” urban districts, and ranked fifth highest of the eight in average principal salary.

Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said last week that the raises are “within reason” and will help the district’s continuing effort to recruit quality employees. Abraha said DPS is in good financial condition, so the raises will not put the quarter-billion-dollar per year district in any financial jeopardy.

Two principals out

The school board voted not to renew three administrators’ contracts for the 2018-19 school year — Ruskin PreK-6 Principal Jennifer Dearwester, Wogaman Middle School Principal Karl Perkins, and director of strategic communication and community relations Venita Kelley. Two votes were unanimous, while the vote on Dearwester was 5-1, with John McManus objecting.

The board tabled a vote to non-renew the contract of Dion Sampson, intervention support coordinator at the district’s Innovative Learning Center.

Dozens of supporters of Dearwester came to the school board meeting for the second consecutive month, wearing matching blue Ruskin shirts. Five of them addressed the school board, complimenting her dedication and skill and pleading with the district to keep her.

EARLIER: Dayton to change almost half of school principals

“She is everywhere, and she knows these kids and she loves them,” said Mandy Williams, the choked-up mother of a third- grader who Dearwester has helped with behavior incentives. “It would be a terrible loss and terrible mistake to let her go.”

Three Wogaman staffers spoke in support of Perkins, touting improvements in the school’s academics, discipline and teacher support since he took over. Perkins stayed to hear the vote, then immediately left and declined comment.

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Dearwester has the right to return to a teaching role in the district if she wants, because she has a continuing contract. She and her attorney left Tuesday’s meeting before the board voted on her status. Perkins and Kelley do not have continuing contract rights.

Lolli repeated DPS’ position that it does not comment on personnel decisions.

Internal auditor leaving

Also Tuesday, DPS internal auditor Randall Harper confirmed he is leaving the district. School board member Mohamed Al-Hamdani said Harper submitted his resignation to take a job outside the district.

Harper was hired almost three years ago when DPS created the position of internal auditor — a move championed by former board member Adil Baguirov. In his three years, Harper uncovered misuse of DPS vehicles, contributed to the internal investigation of allegations against former Superintendent Rhonda Corr, and helped guide creation of the athletic department’s operations manual after money was found missing twice.

TIMELINE: DPS had two-year roller coaster in athletics

Al-Hamdani said the school board has not yet discussed whether it will fill the role now that Harper, the only person to hold that job, is leaving.

More legal fees

The school board approved purchase requisitions for $223,000 in increased legal fees, one month after approving a separate $50,000 increase. Of the $273,000 total increase, $158,000 goes to the Bricker and Eckler firm, and $115,000 goes to Subashi and Wildermuth.

The school district has been involved in numerous court cases and legal negotiations recently involving the legality of its school closing task force, the eligibility of the Dunbar basketball team, and the investigation and separation agreement with Corr, among others.

School bus purchase

The school board approved a contract to purchase 10 new wheelchair accessible buses from Ohio Machinery Co. through the EPA Clean Diesel Rebate Program, at a cost not to exceed $941,280.

In March 2017, the district agreed to lease or finance 115 new buses all at once instead of buying 20 to 30 a year for the next several years. Lolli said very few of those 115 were special education buses, and the district needs to upgrade its fleet.

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She said the school district is making the move now because of money available via a grant program that is expiring this month. Associate Superintendent Shelia Burton said some of the $941,000 will be refunded to DPS.

Preschool changes

The school board approved a memorandum of understanding with the teachers union, establishing that the district will continue its four-day-per-week preschool model, with teachers using Fridays for professional training.

The district tried a five-day preschool pilot program this school year, but experienced staffing and scheduling problems.

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Toddler drowns in babysitter's pool, twin brother hospitalized, deputies say

Published: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 12:35 PM



Larry W. Smith/Getty Images
(Larry W. Smith/Getty Images)

A young girl drowned and her twin brother was hospitalized Friday after they were found in a swimming pool while staying with a babysitter in Tennessee, according to Knox County sheriff’s deputies.

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The children, who were identified only as nearly 2-year-old twins, were staying at a home on Fox Lonas Road in West Knox County when the incident happened, deputies said. Their babysitter told authorities that she began to look for the twins after another child arrived at her home around 10 a.m. Friday.

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She said she found them in the deep end of a swimming pool, deputies said.

First responders attempted to revive the children and rushed them to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in critical condition, WBIR reported.

Deputies said the girl was pronounced dead at the hospital. The boy was on life support Friday.

Authorities are investigating the incident.

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Resident escapes Liberty Twp. house fire caused by lightning strike

Published: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 12:34 PM


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A resident escaped from a Liberty Twp. house Friday after it was struck by lightning as storms pounded the the area, according to to the Liberty Twp. Fire Department.

The two-story house was hit about 3:20 p.m., which ignited an attic fire at the residence in the 5400 block of Walkers Court, said Battalion Chief Chad Canupp.

FIRST REPORT : House fire reported in Liberty Twp.

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“The occupant was alerted to the fire by smoke detectors,” Canupp said.

The fire was contained to the attic area, but the family has been displaced during the cleanup, he said.

A strong band of storms moved through the area from Central Kentucky to Montgomery County on Friday afternoon and evening, causing high winds, lightening and hail in some areas.

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A Dayton man called in a bomb threat so he wouldn’t miss a flight. Now he’s going to prison.

Published: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 12:30 PM

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. WCPO
HANDOUT
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. WCPO(HANDOUT)

A Dayton man who called in a bomb threat to an airport so he wouldn't miss his flight has been sentenced to four months in prison.

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The U.S. Attorney's Office says 40-year-old Dana Carter, of Dayton, was sentenced Thursday for his calls to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in October.Court records show Carter made a series of calls saying there was a bomb on a flight bound for Dallas, Texas.

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The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that flight ended up being canceled due to the threat, and Carter was placed on another flight that left less than two hours later.

Carter has been ordered to pay about $7,700 in restitution to United Airlines over the canceled flight.

Carter's attorney says the fake bomb threat was a "foolish act."

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Does a 911 call exist? That question could alter an area manslaughter trial

Published: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 12:13 PM

William C. Smith Jr. CONTRIBUTED
Contributing Writer
William C. Smith Jr. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

The lawyer for a Trotwood man charged with involuntary manslaughter in the December death of a Troy man asked a Miami County judge on Friday to order prosecutors to turn over the 911 tape from the incident.

If the tape isn't available, the charge against William C. Smith Jr., 42, should be dismissed, lawyer Dennis Lieberman said.

Smith was indicted in the Dec. 8 death of Willard Higgins Jr., 40, of Troy. Police said Higgins died following an altercation with Smith at a South Walnut Street residence in Troy. Smith has pleaded not guilty in county Common Pleas Court.

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Lieberman asked Judge Christopher Gee to order prosecutors to produce the recording of the 911 call for help at the Troy residence. Lieberman said he was told there is no recording of the 911 call available although police reports refer to the call being made. 

The call "is evidence the emergency squad was sent to the location in question for reasons other than those mentioned in the criminal indictment of the defendant," Lieberman wrote. That information, he said, could be exculpatory evidence, or evidence that favors the defendant in the case. 

A Troy police report in the case states "there was a squad call ... in reference to a 40 year old male that was having difficulty breathing and heart problems." 

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Gee previously was asked, and approved, a defense request for money to hire a forensic pathology expert to review autopsy findings in the death. Lieberman said during a July 13 court hearing that he and county Prosecutor Tony Kendell met jointly with another pathologist who ruled after an autopsy that Higgins’ cause of death was due to blunt force trauma.

Lieberman said there were no signs “on the body or head to indicate a fight.” That information, along with medical record details about Higgins’ heart being revived at the hospital were cited in the request. 

Kendell did not object to the hiring of the expert. “It is a very unique set of circumstances,” Kendell said. 

Smith remains in the county jail in lieu of $300,000 bail.

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