Mom blasts Mason school board for mishandling comment about lynching

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 11:24 PM

Mother of Mason student speaks about “lynching” comment

The mother of a black Mason Middle School student blasted school officials Tuesday night for “trying to silence me” in her response to the incident involving a white teacher who told her son his classmates would “lynch” him.

Tanisha Agee-Bell was among the speakers in a standing-room-only crowd of mostly black residents at the first Mason school board meeting since the racial incident that drew national attention was unveiled this month.

 MORE: Mason school officials respond to racist remark by teacher

“What has shocked me is the cavalier way those racist statements were shared and the lack of urgency in which the district responded,” said Agee-Bell, who teared up at times during the meeting as other black residents voiced their complaints about the racial climate in Warren County’s largest school system.

She told the board her early efforts in following district procedures for complaining about the teacher’s remark were largely ignored.

After three weeks, Agee-Bell said, she came to the board in late December and asked for its help in mediating her complaints against veteran teacher Renee Thole.

Thole was initially reprimanded. Then -- after public outcries about leniency, led by Agee-Bell – Thole was ordered on paid administrative leave that includes racial sensitivity training.

MORE: Mason teacher in racial incident now placed on leave after mother complains

“Instead you tried to silence me, to save your image, under the guise of a personnel issue,” she told the board.

“I had no choice but to engage the (news) media,” she said of her choice to go public. 

“Your refusal to listen and the superintendent’s refusal to acknowledge the racist nature of the incident made clear you had no intention of living up to your mission of providing a safe and nurturing environment for all students.”

The Mason School Board meeting on Tuesday night, Jan. 23, 2018, was well attended in the aftermath of a controversial comment by a teacher to a student. (Nicholas Graham/Staff)

“You broke a sacred trust between us. While I appreciate that you finally did the right thing in my case, we will all forever wonder if it was because you recognized it was right to do, or if you were forced by a greater community that knows that right is always right,” said Agee-Bell.

She told the five-member board she hoped the members too would participate in the district’s ongoing and new racial sensitivity programs “so you can examine your own implicit bias and its impact on how you govern the district.”

Mason Superintendent Gail Kist-Kline and Board President Matthew Steele started the meeting with apologizes on how Agee-Bell’s complaint and the teacher’s initial punishment were handled.

Mason officials had earlier vowed to boost existing racial and cultural education programs as well as create new  diversity outreach efforts in the 10,400-student district.

Black students comprise 4 percent of Mason’s enrollment with 23.5 percent Asian, Pacific Islander the largest minority group of students. White, non-Hispanic students total 63 percent of enrollment.

MORE: Mason Middle School hit by another racial incident

Fellow African-American school parent Andrea King called on the board to measure its policies regarding racial sensitivity and determine “if they are implemented fairly.”

Jill Gorley, also a black resident, told the all-white board “we always talk about student diversity and inclusion but I think we have to talk about what our school board looks like. What do our teachers look like and who are we hiring?”

Board members said they heard the messages delivered.

Connie Yingling, in a reference to long-standing board policy not to address personnel issues during public meetings, said, “my intention was never to silence anyone.”

Fellow board member Courtney Allen said, “I appreciate those who spoke here tonight. It’s hard to hear of the difficulties some have had in the district.”

District Spokeswoman Tracey Carson was part of a board presentation at the meeting on how district officials are “accelerating” and adding to required racial and cultural sensitivity training for teachers and school staffers.

New programs will be installed with “an increased sense of urgency,” Carson said.

After the meeting, Agee-Bell said, “I was very pleased with the community support” from African American residents, whites and Asians in attendance

As for the district’s response so far, it “still has a lot of work to do.”

“A plan is great right, but we need to have the right people implementing the plan. It’s not that I expect them to not make mistakes but I expect them to handle them better,” she said.

“There’s this misconception that if you call out a racist behavior, you are calling somebody a racist and that’s not true. We’re saying racism exists … and we have to get rid of the systems that allow racism to exist,” she said.

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Today marks 3rd anniversary of Beavercreek tornado

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 7:10 PM

Today marks 3rd anniversary of Beavercreek tornado

Today marks the third anniversary of a tornado that ripped through Beavercreek, damaging businesses and homes.

The most damage was to part of the Greene Crossing Shopping Plaza off Indian Ripple Road, where two people suffered minor injuries while inside their vehicles.

VIDEO: Beavercreek tornado of 2015

Don Moncrief is a mechanic at Performance Bicycle at the strip mall. He said he’ll never forget the twister that came through.

“It started to rain real hard and I was just standing right back here, right where I am now,” he said.

Store surveillance video shows the tornado as it traveled through the parking lot, hitting portions of the building as drivers try to veer out of its path.

“And I looked and I’ve never been close to a tornado before but I knew as it brushed the front of the building, I knew exactly what it was,” Moncrief said.

A tornado toppled cars and tore roofs off businesses at the Greene Crossing Shopping Center May 26, 2015, in Beavercreek. LISA POWELL / STAFF FILE

Another video shows large pieces of debris land on two vehicles.

“I could see the debris swirling. It blew our door open (to the shop). I could look up and see the windows and glass just flexing like crazy,” he said. “It came and went. I didn’t even have time to get scared.”

RELATED: Tornado damage keeps businesses closed

The National Weather Service classified the tornado as an EF-1 with maximum wind speeds of 105 mph. The width of the tornado was 70 yards, and it was on the ground for one minute and traveled a half-mile. As many as 22 cars sustained damage in the shopping center parking lot in addition to building damage, the NWS said.

RELATED: NWS confirms EF-1 tornado in Beavercreek

There was plenty of damage to the Fit Works gym next door to Performance Bicycle, which was closed for nine days, Moncrief said.

“It wasn’t a vicious tornado, but I don’t want to do another one,” he said. “One’s enough.”

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Bicyclist struck, killed on West Main Street in Troy

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 12:14 PM
Updated: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 5:20 PM

Bicyclist struck, killed on West Main Street in Troy

A bicyclist was killed late Saturday morning after he was struck by an SUV while headed west on West Main Street.

  • Bicyclist pronounced dead at scene
  • Victim’s identity not yet released
  • Motorist taken to hospital as precaution

The bicyclist was traveling west in the curb lane in the 900 block of West Main Street just before noon when he was ended up in the path of an oncoming SUV and was struck, Troy police Capt. Joe Long said.

The victim, described as an older man from the Troy area, was not identified. 

He was not wearing a helmet and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. His body was taken to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office for an autopsy.

WATCH: NASA plane returns to Armstrong Museum after restoration

The driver of the SUV was not believed to be injured but was taken to Upper Valley Medical Center in Troy as a precaution.

The crash remains under investigation.

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People and pets participate in Humane Society’s annual Furry Skurry 5K

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 11:22 AM

Furry Scurry 5K event on Saturday

The Humane Society of Greater Dayton held its 27th annual Furry Skurry 5K walk/run Saturday morning.

>>Family of city commissioner to hold honorary street renaming

People with their pets walked and ran to raise money to help care for homeless pets at the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, according to Jessica Garringer of the Humane Society of Greater Dayton.

The event took place at Eastwood Metro Park at 9:30 a.m.

The Furry Skurry had live entertainment, arts, crafts, food truck rally, a kids play zone, a beverage tent and more according to Garringer.

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Community celebrates honorary street naming for Dean Lovelace

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 6:38 AM
Updated: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 12:45 PM

Street named for former city commissioner Dean Lovelace

The family of Dean Lovelace, the longest-serving Dayton city commissioner, celebrated an honorary street renaming for him Saturday.

>>Longest-serving Dayton commissioner dies

Dean Lovelace Drive was unveiled at 11 a.m. at Madden Hills Drive in Dayton.

The ceremony also included a balloon release in memory of the late commissioner who died last year on Memorial Day weekend at the age of 71.

Dean Lovelace

He served as commissioner for 22 years and left the commission in 2016 for health reasons after finishing his sixth term.

Lovelace was described by friends and peers as a firebrand committed to serving the most needy residents of Dayton.

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