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Akron school board votes to fire teacher over racist Facebook rant
Other morning headlines: Casino revenues flat for November; Akron teachers get raises but will pay double for health insurance
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
  • Akron school board votes to fire teacher over racist Facebook rant
  • Casino revenues flat for November
  • Akron teachers get raises but will pay double for health insurance
  • Cleveland man pleads not guilty to cold case murder of teen 
  • Ohio sees uptick in Medicaid applications  
  • ACLU Ohio sues over access to Lucasville prison riot interviews
  • Ohio school board member resigns amid ethics allegations
  • Tuscarawas County near tops during deer-gun season 

  •  
    Akron school board votes to fire teacher over racist Facebook rant
    The Akron school board has voted to terminate the contract of a Firestone High music teacher who posted a racist rant on his Facebook page. David Spondike has been on paid leave since late October, when he used racial slurs in a complaint about teens allegedly urinating in his yard during trick-or-treat night in Copley. After weeks of denying the posts, he later admitted to the comments while stating that he was within his rights to speak his mind.  Spondike now has 10 days to respond to the board’s intent to fire him. He can appeal, and a hearing would be held that would be decided by a referee. 

    Casino revenues flat for November
    Revenues at Ohio's four casinos changed only moderately last month. Data released Monday by the Ohio Casino Control Commission shows that Cleveland's casino saw the most fluctuation, with a 3.5 percent increase. Revenue was up about a million dollars from October’s $19.5 million. Cincinnati's casino saw the largest drop, a roughly 3 percent decrease to around $17.5 million. Revenue at Columbus dropped slightly, while Toledo’s went up slightly. Statewide, casino revenues totaled about $70 million in November, a very slightly increase over October revenues. Overall, the casinos have drawn more than $758 million so far this year.

    Meanwhile, ThistleDown Racino posted its strongest month since opening as the state’s second slots-only racino in the state in April. November revenues at the facility in North Randall brought in about $13 million in November after all bets were paid. 

    Akron teachers get raises but will pay double for health insurance
    The Akron School Board has signed off on a new contract for its teacher’s union, a year-and-a-half after the old one expired. An arbitrator put together the new contract after the two sides could not agree on salary, health insurance costs and whether to include binding arbitration in future deals. The more than 2,000 members of the Akron Education Association will get 2 percent raises in January that will increase slightly in July and another next year. The raises will be offset by nearly $22 million in health insurance concessions in the three-year contract. Insurance premiums will double. During the nearly two-year negotiations, Akron voters approved a 7.9-mill levy and the district received the maximum increase in funding under the new state budget.

    Cleveland man pleads not guilty to cold case murder of teen
    A Cleveland man facing a possible death sentence has pleaded not guilty in the 1984 slaying of 14-year-old girl. Fifty-eight-year-old Hernandez Warren entered the plea Monday to an updated indictment charging him with aggravated murder, rape and kidnapping. He was jailed without bond. The new indictment including death-penalty specifications was returned last week. Investigators say DNA evidence linked Warren to the killing of Gloria Pointer. She went missing while walking to school in Cleveland. Authorities say Warren lived in the same neighborhood as the girl.

    Ohio sees uptick in Medicaid applications  
    Ohio is seeing an uptick in online applications for Medicaid now that many low-income residents can sign up for the health program through a new website. The online enrollment option became available Monday to children, pregnant women and adults who are newly eligible under an expansion of the federal-state program. The state's Medicaid department said applications through the website reached 1,165 by mid-afternoon Monday. Greg Moody, director of the Governor's Office of Health Transformation, says most of the initial applications still have to be finalized by county caseworkers, though the state expects the enrollment process to be more automated and seamless in the months ahead. Advocates say they are sending potential Medicaid enrollees to the website in addition to giving them paper applications.

    ACLU Ohio sues over access to Lucasville prison riot interviews
    The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio wants the state prisons agency to drop a ban on media interviews by inmates convicted in the 1993 Lucasville prison riot. Four reporters and five inmates represented by the ACLU say the long-standing ban is unconstitutional and meant only to stifle public discussion of the riot. The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Columbus asks a judge to overturn the ban and allow interviews with the inmates, including four prisoners sentenced to death for their role in the riots. A Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman said the agency can't comment on pending litigation. Nine inmates and a guard were killed during the 11-day riot, the nation's longest deadly prison uprising.

    Ohio school board member resigns amid ethics allegations
    A member of Ohio's state school board has resigned after questions arose over his work as a lobbyist. Bryan Williams, an Akron-area Republican, said in an email to the board’s president Monday that recent media reports drew his attention to an Ohio Ethics Commission opinion saying elected members of state boards shouldn't be registered lobbyists. Williams was one of four board members identified by the Akron Beacon Journal as having ties to businesses with a stake in education funding overseen by the 19-member panel. Williams pushed recently for a bill establishing a contractor apprenticeship program paid for by school districts.

    Three hunters killed during gun season
    Authorities say three Ohio deer hunters were killed during the weeklong gun season — the first killed since 2009. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says two hunters were killed Dec. 2, in Coshocton County, east of Columbus, and Gallia County in southern Ohio. The third fatality was the next day in Fulton County, west of Toledo. The Columbus Dispatch reports that all were believed to be accidental shootings. Officials said Ohio hunters checked 75,408 white-tailed deer during this year's gun season — down about 13 percent from last year. Coshocton County led the way for the highest number of deer taken. Other top counties were Muskingum, Tuscarawas, Guernsey and Ashtabula.
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