Wayne parent alleges ‘culture of hate,’ superintendent touts positive culture

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 4:21 PM

Wayne parent alleges ‘culture of hate,’ superintendent touts positive culture

Wayne High School’s principal met this week with a parent who alleges there is a “culture of hate … and white supremacy within all Huber Heights City Schools,” according to interviews with the parent and superintendent.

After Principal Jeff Berk met Monday with parent Will Smith, Smith on Wednesday evening sent local news media an eight-point list of demands on behalf of a group called the “Coalition of Concerned African American Parents and Students of Wayne High School.”

“There are glaring disparities with how African American students are handled versus the way white students are handled,” Smith said in the press release. “African American students and families feel that no matter how many times they voice their concerns, their pleas” fall on deaf ears.

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EARLIER: No charges in Wayne High School incident

Meanwhile, district officials said they were surprised Smith went to the media after what they believed was a constructive meeting during which Smith was invited to sit on the school’s parent advisory committee.

“They met for over an hour,” Superintendent Sue Gunnell said of Berk’s meeting with Smith. “My impression was that Mr. Berk said it was a good conversation and tried to assure him that, no, this is not happening, everything has a great, positive climate here at Wayne High School.”

Additionally, Gunnell said teachers work on practicing positive behavior intervention and support to create a “climate that is one of respect” and safety at school. She additionally said parents were welcome to meet with her to discuss concerns.

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Smith said, “While the administration prides itself on being the only high school in Ohio with outstanding diversity, parents are concerned that the administrative and teaching staff do not fully grasp what true diversity looks like in practice.”

Smith — whose daughter is a senior at Wayne — and his public relations agent said they would work to provide the media with proof.

“It is my understanding that he, as well as another parent … met with the principal and got a lot of lip service,” said Jessica Watters-East, the public relations agent. “He felt that no one was looking into the totality of the incident.”

“They would like to sit down with members of the school higher ups,” she said. “He’s planning on being at the school board meeting.”

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Other parents interviewed by this newsroom indicated the problems were being overplayed.

“I would say there is a little racial tension…” said Monica Richardson, who is black and whose daughter is a senior at Wayne High School. She said her daughter was nervous about going to school Monday because of bomb threats. “But the issues going on, I’m not so certain it’s actually racial.”

The main points of tension between Smith and the district are:

» Threats of violence: Smith says that prior to Saturday’s homecoming dance “several threats of violence were made. The threats were targeting African American students who had exercised their First Amendment rights by kneeling silently as the national anthem played during a pep assembly and the subsequent football game. Following this peaceful protest, a number of white students sent threats via SnapChat and graffiti written on school property. A number of teachers threatened students as well.”

Gunnell said Thursday: “My understanding is that there were not threats to students of color.”

Berk said a message found in a bathroom last week said “people at Wayne are going to die.” School officials identified the student responsible for that message, started the student conduct procedure, and notified police. Then, on Saturday night, the school’s homecoming dance was abruptly ended when a loud noise and threat of a “gun” spooked students and caused a police response. Administrators also identified a student connected to the incident and are working through the school’s conduct procedure, but police said this week officers will not bring charges in the incident.

The Dayton Daily News and WHIO have requested the Huber Heights Police Division provide incident reports and investigations involving Wayne High School since July 1. Additionally, the news organizations have requested that the district and police provide video of the homecoming incident.

» Attendance issues: Smith alleges that on Monday “over (50 percent) of enrolled students did not attend school because of a bomb threat posted on SnapChat.”

Attendance was down to about 80 percent on Monday, this newsroom reported Berk saying on Tuesday. A typical school day sees an attendance rate of about 91 percent, Berk said.

“There were less students than a typical day, but it wasn’t drastic numbers,” he said.

» First Amendment issues: Smith “demands” that “The First Amendment right(s) of students and parents … be upheld,” but in a follow-up interview with this news outlet conceded that the rights are already being upheld.

In the same press release demanding First Amendment rights be upheld “without being harassed and threatened by staff, students and other parents,” Smith detailed how Berk “had a meeting with the staff of Wayne HS and reminded them that the students who chose to kneel are afforded the right to do so under the protections of the United State(s) Constitution and it is unlawful to coerce, harass or intimidate a student to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.”

Gunnell said Berk addressed the school over its public address system to remind them “that students have the right to kneel and sit, and we have to be respectful of that.”

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One taken by CareFlight after two-vehicle accident in Darke Co.

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 7:37 PM

The Darke County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an injury accident that occurred Monday afternoon around 4:00 p.m., according to a release.

Deputies, along with Greenville Twp. Rescue and Fire Department, responded to a two-vehicle accident on U.S. 127 north of Horatio Harris Creek Road.

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The preliminary investigation revealed a 2004 Buick LeSabre, driven by Jarrod Archer, 18, of Arcanum, was traveling southbound on U.S. 127. Archer’s vehicle traveled into the northbound lane striking a 2012 Chrysler Town and County, driven by Angela Fahncke, 31, of Minster.
Archer was taken to the Darke County Sheriff’s Office where he was transferred by CareFlight to Miami Valley Hospital, and Fahncke was taken to Wayne Hospital.

Both Archer and Fahncke’s conditions are unknown, and the accident remains under investigation.

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

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Passing storms expected through the evening

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 3:08 AM
Updated: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 6:59 PM

Showers and thunderstorms are expected for our Monday, but a much drier change is on the way.

Scattered thunderstorms, some with brief heavy downpours, are showing weakening trend as expected as we approach sunset, Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Eric Elwell reports. Storms should continue to fizzle although there are still a few heavy showers drifting near Richmond, another one near Xenia and another moving south in Butler County. Little, if any rainfall will be left after sunset (after 9pm).


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    • Scattered storms to taper off after dark
    • Cooler, less humid air arrives for midweek
    • Unsettled weather returns for the coming weekend

>> Live Doppler 7 HD Interactive Radar

5-day forecast with Meteorologist Jesse Maag

>>Five-Day Forecast


This evening: Expect passing showers and storms. A few may contain gusty winds and brief heavy rainfall. Temperatures will be in the 80s but fall into the 70s where rainfall occurs.

Overnight: Any lingering showers will taper off with clouds breaking. Temperatures and humidity will drop with lows in the upper 60s by morning.

>> County-by-County Weather 

Tuesday: Skies will become mostly sunny. It will be warm but less humid with highs in the middle 80s.

Wednesday: Lots of sunshine is expected with much less humidity. Highs will top out near 80 degrees.

Thursday: Expect another nice day under mostly sunny skies. Highs will rebound back into the middle 80s.

Friday: Clouds will be on the increase with a chance for scattered showers and storms developing by afternoon. The humidity will also be on the rise with highs in the middle 80s. 

Saturday: Numerous showers and storms are expected, especially in the afternoon hours. Highs will be in the lower 80s.

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 Off-duty Troy firefighter dies unexpectedly

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 4:21 PM

An off-duty Troy firefighter/paramedic passed away unexpectedly Friday evening.

Jason Holfinger, 38, died unexpectedly at his Covington home, according to his obituary.

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He is survived by his wife and three children.

Holfinger joined the Troy Fire Department in 2013.

Grief counseling has been offered to Troy firefighters.

Visitation will be at Koinos Christian Fellowship Church in Troy on Wednesday from 3 to 8 p.m.

>>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

A funeral service will be held Thursday at 10 a.m.  at the church.

A cause of death has not yet been determined.

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Wanted: workers who can pass a drug test

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 5:30 PM

Mindi Harris, Families of Addicts

Mindi Harris was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at an early age and suffered from severe pain. 

"They put me on Morphine 60's. They put me on Percocet 10's and Fentanyl patches and I'm just an 18-year-old kid," said Harris. 

Harris said she was soon addicted, but managed to hold down a full-time job until her addiction to opioids caught up with her at work.

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"They said, 'okay it's drug test time,' and at that time I'm in active addiction so I freak out," Harris said. 

Harris said she lost her job and spiraled out of control, "my addiction kind of took off and I hit rock bottom."

She is in recovery now and while looking for a new job, Harris said she is seeing a growing number of Miami Valley companies doing drug testing. Our investigation found that drug testing is mandatory in manufacturing since these businesses require employees to operate heavy machinery. 

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Steve Staub runs Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton and said his company has a hard time filling jobs because so many applicants cannot pass the drug test. 

"We have people apply and we do interviews on the phone and ask, 'can you pass a drug test?' They say, 'no, not right now. Can you give me a month or so and maybe I can,'" Staub said.  

A top testing company found that drug use by American workers is at its highest rate in a decade at 4.2 percent, based on 10-million drug test results. What are these companies seeing when applicants find out there is a required drug test?

"Probably about a third of those folks who schedule to come in and see us, don't actually make it," said Jeff Noble, of Noble Staffing Solutions. 

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Facing the need to fill these jobs, Staub is stepping up with a unique solution. 

"The business here is taking a new approach. First, working with a local nonprofit to give people a second chance, and at the same time, helping the company," said Staub. "It's the right thing to do."

The nonprofit is Good Shepherd Ministries and the goal is to give recovering addicts a place to live and help finding a job. 

Bryan Blackford said he used pain pills and then Fentanyl and eventually lost his job. 

"There were times when I was sitting there using Fentanyl," said Blackford. "I'd b half hunched over, dead basically, and still trying to hit more."

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Blackford was a welder at Honda and now that he is in recovery, he hopes to get a job in metal fabrication. 

"To be fully independent, that would mean the world to me," Blackford said. 

With the economy in overdrive, other local companies are now turning to Good Shepherd for help too. 

"My phone rings every other day. People want employees that can pass drug tests," said Shawn Trapp of Good Shepherd Ministries. 

While looking for work and fighting the stigma of addiction, Mindi Harris is telling others in recovery not to give up. 

"That's what I'm continuing to do because I have to," said Harris. "As frustrating as it is, that's what we have to do." 


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