Graduation rates rise again; Ohio ranks low for black students

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 6:50 AM


            The four-year graduation rate for Ohio public high school students rose to 83.5 percent in 2015-16, the most recent year for which data is available. FILE PHOTO
The four-year graduation rate for Ohio public high school students rose to 83.5 percent in 2015-16, the most recent year for which data is available. FILE PHOTO

High school graduation rates rose both nationally and in Ohio, according to comprehensive 2015-16 data released last week, but concerns remain about the number of students not graduating, and about graduation rates for black students in Ohio.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the nation’s four-year graduation rate for public high school students rose by 1 percent for the fifth straight year, to an all-time high of 84.1 percent.

RELATED: State OKs softer graduation rules for Class of 2018

Ohio’s graduation rate also rose, to 83.5 percent for the Class of 2016, placing Ohio 29th of 50 states and just below the national average. State graduation rates vary for a number of reasons, including different requirements on what courses and tests students have to pass to earn a diploma.

Ohio has been embroiled in a graduation debate for the past few years, as lawmakers and state education officials approved new, tougher tests and standards for the Class of 2018, then softened them last summer when it appeared the graduation rate might drop.

RELATED: State may adjust graduation for 2019 and beyond

Now current high school seniors (the Class of 2018) have alternative routes to a diploma that include good attendance, community service hours and senior projects, as long as they pass their classes. Some say that doesn’t demand enough of students. But as anti-testing momentum grows, the state school board today will debate whether to recommend extending those options to the class of 2019 and beyond.

Ohio among worst at graduating black pupils

For the fourth straight year, Ohio’s four-year graduation rate for black students at public high schools was among the six lowest states in the nation, according to the NCES data.

Ohio saw 67.3 percent of black students graduate in the Class of 2016, ranking us 45th of 50 states, and 9 percentage points behind the national average of 76.4 percent. That’s actually an improvement over Ohio’s 59.7 percent graduation rate for black students in 2014-15, which ranked us 49th of 50 states, and 15 percentage points behind the national rate of 74.6 percent.

RELATED: Black students not closing gaps in local schools

RELATED: Dayton summit aims for black male student success

Hashim Jabar, interim executive director of Racial Justice Now, said the problem can be traced to several systemic issues starting at the preschool level. He mentioned disproportionate punishment of black students, a lack of black teachers and neighborhood-resident teachers in majority-black schools, as well as unconstitutional state funding that results in schools like Dayton Public receiving less money than the state formula calls for.

“With property taxes being a major part of the formula, that disproportionately affects cities like Cincinnati, Cleveland and Dayton, those poorer areas,” Jabar said. “There’s a correlation to these systemic issues. Students in these schools are not receiving the same education that’s received in the suburbs of Dayton. They get lesser education, lesser funding and lesser services, despite having a stronger need.”

Ohio Department of Education officials could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

National overview

The NCES data showed a clear bright spot — the national graduation rate improved for every subgroup of students – white, black, Hispanic, low-income, students with disabilities, English as a second-language students, and others.

RELATED: Ohio schools ranked exactly average nationally

From 2011-16, the national graduation rate increased by about 9 points for black students, to 76 percent, and by about 8 points for Hispanic and low-income students, to 79 and 78 percent, respectively. White students’ graduation rate rose from 84 to 88 percent in that span.

But the organizations leading the GradNation campaign said not enough progress is being made toward their goal of a 90 percent national graduation rate by 2020. They called for a sense of urgency “from the kitchen table to the schoolhouse to the highest reaches of corporations and government.”

RELATED: 42 percent of Ohio seniors not at graduation level yet

“We must continue to be alarmed by the persistent and remaining gaps among various subgroups of students. While we are glad to see the rate of increase among the key subgroups, the progress is not sufficient,” the GradNation group said in a statement. “In today’s world, young people who don’t graduate from high school have virtually no chance to find a job with a family supporting wage. The nation simply can’t afford this waste of talent.”

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Rezoning means what’s left of Skyborn Drive-In, Skateland will disappear

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 10:10 PM

Rezoning means what's left of Skyborn Drive-In, Skateland will disappear

The Bath Twp. board of trustees voted unanimously Thursday night in favor of a zoning change that means what’s left of the iconic Skyborn Drive-In and Skateland will be razed. 

The properties are on Haddix Road in the township, north of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and the land will become the home to a construction company. 

"It's going to be sad to see them go," Dan Kirkpatrick, Fairborn Area Historical Society vice president, told WHIO-TV's James Buechele. 

>> Skateland owner negotiating sale (2015)

"It's been a place for families to go to watch a movie," he said. "It's been a place for kids to go skating." 

This is what's left of the Skyborn Drive-In in Bath Twp., Greene County. (Courtesy/James Buechele)

Kirkpatrick said the historical society is working with the construction company, Barrett Paving, to use the property as a quarry. Both sides also will be exploring the area for any historical artifacts to save. 

>> Area drive-ins won’t open this year (2016)

Officials with the paving company said they are willing to possibly save the drive-in sign. 

Kirkpatrick said he's not sure where the sign would go. 

"Who knows? We might be able to find some future use for it," he said.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Freeze warning for some overnight; warmer weekend ahead

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 3:21 AM
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 3:30 PM

Gradual warm up towards the weekend.

Freeze Warning will go into effect at 2 a.m. Friday for Montgomery, Greene, Warren, Preble and Butler counties.

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Clearing skies, cold tonight
  • Sunshine, milder weather Friday
  • Dry and mild through weekend

>> Live Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

DETAILED FORECAST

Overnight: Skies will be mainly clear and temperatures will fall to near or below freezing for several hours overnight.

>> Clear skies in time for Lyrid Meteor Shower this weekend

Friday: Sunshine will end the workweek with a steady warm-up getting under way. Highs will reach into the middle 50s.

Saturday: Expect lots of sunshine but with some high clouds moving by. It will be milder with temperatures topping out in the upper 50s.

Sunday: Partly cloudy skies and mild conditions will end the weekend with highs in the lower 60s.

Monday: A bit more cloud cover will be around through the day. There also is a slight chance for a passing shower, mainly south. Highs will reach into the middle 60s.

>> WHIO Weather App

Tuesday: Expect lots of clouds and a chance for showers. Highs will reach back into the lower 60s.

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Magnitude 3.6 earthquake that hits Canada is felt in metro Detroit

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 9:16 PM

(Courtesy/earthquake.USGS.gov)
(Courtesy/earthquake.USGS.gov)

A magnitude 3.6 earthquake that occurred in Amherstburg, Canada, across the Detroit River from Grosse Ile, Michigan, on Thursday night was felt in metro Detroit.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake hit about 8 p.m. 

The depth of the quake was about 5 km deep and felt in southern Detroit, which is about 20 north of the epicenter. 

>> OTHER NEWS: Why the freeze warning in southern Miami Valley?

There have been no reports of damage or injury. 

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

"They happen from time to time, right in that magnitude" in southeast Michigan, David Gurney, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in White Lake, told the Detroit Free Press. "They are rare, but not unheard of."

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‘Losing Streak Lois,’ killer grandma wanted in 2 slayings nabbed near U.S.-Mexico border, report says

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 11:05 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 11:05 PM

New Footage Released Of Killer Grandma, $6,000 Reward Offered For Capture


Update Apr 19, 2018 11:00 p.m. EDT: U.S. marshals caught the woman dubbed ‘Losing Streak Lois’ in Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday after a multi-state crime spree, according to ABC News.

Lois Riess was alone when she was captured in a restaurant on South Padre Island around 8:30 p.m. local time, U.S. Marshal John Kinsey told ABC News.

Reiss was wanted in connection with as many as three murders in three different states, including the murder of her husband in Minnesota.

(Previous story)

U.S. marshals have erected billboards in multiple states as they continue to search for a Minnesota grandmother, gambling addict and alleged killer who is suspected in two homicides, including that of a woman she allegedly killed to assume her identity. 

Lois Riess, 56, was last seen April 8 in the area of Corpus Christi, Texas, following what is believed to be a multistate homicide case. She is sought on murder and theft charges in the slaying of Pamela Hutchinson, of Bradenton, who was found shot to death April 9 in a condominium in which she was staying in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. 

Riess, who Minnesota law enforcement officers dubbed “Losing Streak Lois” for her penchant for gambling, is also a person of interest in the killing of her husband, David Riess, who was found shot to death March 23 on the couple’s worm farm in Blooming Prairie. 

In each shooting, the victim had been dead for several days when the body was found. Authorities also believe Lois Riess used the same weapon in both cases. 

U.S. marshals are placing billboards in Texas, New Mexico, California and Arizona in the nationwide search for Lois Riess, 56, who is suspected of murders in Florida and Minnesota. She is described as a white woman with brown eyes and pale blonde hair, standing about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing about 165 pounds. The white Acura she is accused of stealing from a victim has Florida license plate number Y37TAA.(U.S. Marshals Service)

>> Related story: Minnesota grandma sought in deaths of husband, Florida ‘lookalike’ killed for ID

The U.S. Marshals Service on Tuesday updated the search for Riess to major status and announced a $5,000 reward for her capture. Another $1,000 in reward money is being made available by Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers.  

John Kinsey, a deputy U.S. marshal in Florida, told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis that the billboards are going up in Texas, New Mexico, California and Arizona. 

“Unfortunately, there have been no further sightings,” Kinsey told the Star Tribune. “She blends in real well. She is an average, 56-year-old white female walking around, and that is part of the problem.”

>> Read more trending news

Florida investigators have said Riess killed Hutchinson, 59, for her identity. The women, who were strangers before Riess befriended Hutchinson, bore a striking resemblance to one another. 

Surveillance footage from the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery, located two blocks from Hutchinson’ condo at the Marina Village at Snug Harbor, shows Riess smiling and chatting with a blonde woman in a hat who Lee County Sheriff’s Office detectives have identified as Hutchinson. 

Hutchinson’s cousin on Monday posted an image from the surveillance footage to Facebook, side by side with an undated image of Hutchinson wearing that same hat as in the footage. 

Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service said investigators believe Hutchinson was killed on or around April 5, when the surveillance footage at the bar was shot. 

Lee County officials also on Tuesday released several snippets of surveillance video, including one piece that shows Riess, wearing the same blue shirt seen in the bar video, calmly walking away from Marina Village toward the parking lot. She is seen on another video driving away in Hutchinson’s white 2005 Acura TL.

Hutchinson’s keys, identification, cash and credit cards were also missing when her body was found.

The News-Press in Fort Myers reported Tuesday that sometime after Hutchinson’s death, Riess went to a Wells Fargo branch there and used Hutchinson’s identification to withdraw $5,000 from the slain woman’s account. 

See the original footage of Riess chatting with Pamela Hutchinson, obtained by the News-Press, below. 

Riess was next spotted in Ocala, about 215 miles north of Fort Myers, where more surveillance footage released Tuesday shows her driving up to a Hilton hotel in Hutchinson’s stolen car and checking in as a guest. Again, she is wearing the blue top seen in previous videos, as well as a light-colored fedora-style hat with a black band.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office officials told the News-Press that Riess stayed in the hotel the nights of April 6 and 7.  

Riess used Hutchinson’s identity to check into the hotel around 8 p.m. on April 6. She also used the victim’s identification to withdraw another $500 from Hutchinson’s bank account at an Ocala bank.  

“She’s confident, doesn’t look over her shoulder, like she’s not hiding anything,” Kinsey told the Star Tribune of Riess’ demeanor in the videos. “She was very nonchalant.”

>> Related story: New footage released of ‘killer grandma’ suspected in 2 homicides; $6,000 reward offered for capture

The fugitive was next spotted in the stolen Acura in Louisiana, where an attempt to get $200 at a gas station failed, the News-Press said

Kinsey said Riess was also spotted on surveillance images April 7 and 8 in casinos in Louisiana. 

“She went from casino to casino to make money, or because she is addicted to it,” Kinsey said. “She is consumed by it.”

The final definite sighting of Riess was the following day, April 8 in Refugio, Texas, about 40 miles north of Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi is about 150 miles from the Mexico border. 

Mexican authorities are aware of the search for Riess and are keeping an eye out for her, or anyone using Hutchinson’s identification, at the border, the News-Press reported. A Lee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said she would have to show identification to cross, but there is no guarantee she would not be able to slip through.

The last confirmed sighting of Riess or the stolen car was the day before Hutchinson’s body was found -- and before she was even linked to that homicide. 

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which has been searching for Riess since late last month, describes her as a white woman with brown eyes and pale blonde hair. She is about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 165 pounds. 

The white Acura she is accused of stealing from Hutchinson has Florida license plate number Y37TAA. 

Riess has been on the run since mid-March, when she is suspected of gunning down her husband, David Riess, on their rural worm farm before stealing $11,000 from his personal and business accounts. Deputies with the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office found him after his business partner reported that he had not been seen or heard from in several weeks.  

Lois Riess was nowhere to be found, but investigators learned she visited a casino in Iowa on her way out of the Midwest, investigators said. She is charged with grand theft in connection with her husband’s slaying. 

Dodge County investigators are also anticipated to file murder charges against her sometime this week. 

Riess was initially linked to Hutchinson’s slaying, in part, because her family’s white Cadillac Escalade, which she was believed to be driving after her husband’s murder, was found abandoned in a county park in Fort Myers Beach, the News-Press reported

Court records in Minnesota also show that Riess, who was named guardian of her disabled sister in 2012, stole more than $78,000 from her before being caught three years later. 

Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno described Riess to NBC News earlier this week as a “stone-cold killer” who authorities fear might kill again when she runs out of resources. 

“She smiles and looks like anyone’s mother or grandmother,” Marceno said. “And yet she’s calculated, she’s targeted and an absolute cold-blooded killer.”

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