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Morning news headlines for December 11, 2012
Ohio Senate nearing vote on switch to letter grades for schools; Ohio's prisons director fears having to close up to four state prisons; Owners and employees of Ohio Internet cafes rally to save jobs

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
  • Ohio Senate nearing vote on switch to letter grades for schools
  • Seclusion room regulations on hold
  • Occupy Cleveland protestors could return to Public Square
  • Prisons director warns he may have to close four state prisons 
  • Owners and employees of Ohio Internet cafes rally to save jobs 
  • Obese death row inmate files another appeal
  • State wants video of deadly Cleveland police chase 
  • Exotic animal owner in Massillon testifies 
  • Ohio A.G. forms foster-care advisory group
  • Ohio Senate nearing vote on switch to letter grades for schools
    A bill bestowing familiar-looking A through F grades on Ohio school districts, buildings and specialty programs is headed to likely passage in the Ohio Senate. The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to vote on the bill today, with Senate passage expected this week. The bill would give letter grades to school districts, school buildings, community schools, STEM schools and college-preparatory boarding schools based on 13 performance measures. The grades would replace the current five-tier system of ratings: from excellent to academic emergency. The bill already cleared the Ohio House.

    Seclusion room regulations on hold
    The state school board in Ohio is continuing to debate new regulations for how educators must seclude and physically restrain students. The issue arose Monday during an Ohio Board of Education committee and during a board presentation. Some educators have balked at setting rules for such practices, complaining they could overburden school systems with training, testing and paperwork.
    Parents and advocates for special-needs children generally want to see such policies in place to protect students. The rules would identify the safest way to restrain and seclude youngsters to keep them calm. To accommodate further debate, the decision has been deferred to January.

    Obese death row inmate files another appeal
    A condemned Ohio killer trying to delay his execution because of his extreme weight is appealing the ruling of a judge who denied his claim. Death row inmate Ronald Post weighs more than 400 pounds and is asking the courts to stop his January execution on the grounds his weight could cause him to suffer severe pain during the procedure. Post asked a federal appeals court in Cincinnati on Monday to overrule a judge's ruling last month. Cleveland federal Judge Lesley Wells said Post is prohibited from challenging his execution by injection because he raised similar claims in his first set of federal appeals in 1997. Wells says Post hasn't shown that either his medical condition or Ohio's lethal injection procedures has changed radically since then.


    State wants video of deadly Cleveland police chase
    Authorities investigating the Cleveland car chase that ended with a barrage of police gunfire and two deaths are seeking help from businesses along the chase route. Attorney General Mike DeWine's office is leading the investigation. He asked businesses Monday to provide any security video that might show the chase. The 25-minute, 22-mile chase last month began when an officer heard what he thought was a shot fired outside police headquarters. No weapon or shells were found in the fleeing car.  Officers fired 137 shots. The passenger was shot 24 times, and the driver 23 times.  Their deaths upset some members of the community who compare the gunfire to an execution.  Police said use of force was justified because the driver rammed a cruiser and nearly hit an officer.

    Prisons director warns he may have to close four state prisons 
    Ohio's prisons director tells Gov. John Kasich's administration that a 10 percent budget cut would mean closing up to four state prisons.  In an Oct. 1 budget request, Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Gary Mohr said four facilities, including three large prisons, would need to be closed if budget cuts reached 10 percent of current levels. Mohr also said the small, stand-alone Hocking Correctional Facility that houses older inmates would need to be closed due to Ohio's shrinking prison population. But a spokeswoman said Monday that increased population projections since fall will require keeping the facility open.


    Owners and employees of Ohio Internet cafes rally to save jobs 
    Owners and employees of Ohio Internet cafe storefront gambling operations say forcing them out of business could cost 4,000 jobs or more. Internet cafe backers rallied Monday in Cleveland.
    Last week the Ohio House approved a proposal that amounts to a virtual ban on Internet cafes. An Ohio Senate committee takes up the bill today.  
    Opponents say the computer games that operate like slot machines with cash prizes amount to illegal gambling. Operators say they sell legitimate products like phone cards with a chance to win a prize.

    Exotic animal owner in Massillon testifies 
    An animal owner has told a federal judge that Ohio's new regulations on exotic creatures would wipe out most of her business and put her animals' lives in danger. Cyndi Huntsman testified Monday that a requirement that animals receive a microchip for identification would put animals at risk because of sedation during surgery. Huntsman owns Stump Hill Farm near Massillon.  She exhibits bears, lions and tigers to schoolchildren and the elderly through educational programs.  She is one of four owners suing the state over the new law claiming it violates their property and First Amendment rights.


    Ohio A.G. forms foster-care advisory group 
    Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has formed an advisory group to help solve some of the biggest problems in the state's foster-care system, including safety and stability.  DeWine announced the formation of the group at a news conference on Monday and gave its members a March deadline to issue recommendations to improve the system.  The announcement came almost one year after DeWine's office held the first of eight child-safety summits in the state following a rash of shocking cases.
    Those included the Oct. 21, 2011, death of a 2-year-old Cincinnati boy who had been beaten and burned, allegedly by his father, two months after he was returned to his parents' home from foster care.  DeWine says it's time for the state to say to some parents, "enough is enough."

    Akron votes to raise campaign limits
    For the second time in two years, Akron City Council has voted to increase the campaign contribution limits for council and mayoral candidates.  Council on Monday raised the limits for donations to mayoral and at-large council candidates from $450 to $650 and for ward council candidates from $200 to $400. The higher limits will apply to next year’s election when the 10 ward and three at-large seats will be on the ballot.  Akron council voted in February 2011 to boost the limits for city-wide races from $300 to $450 and for ward contests from $100 to $200. This was after a charter change approved by voters the previous November that required council to pass legislation setting new limits and to revisit the limits every two years, including having public hearings. Some thought council’s existing limits were too low.

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