Schools 2017: Grad requirement changes, local investigations were big

Global Impact STEM Academy students go on a virtual field trip Monday as they listen and ask questions of a farmer in his field with his cows from their classroom. Bill Lackey/Staff
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Global Impact STEM Academy students go on a virtual field trip Monday as they listen and ask questions of a farmer in his field with his cows from their classroom. Bill Lackey/Staff

It was a big year in local school news.

The Springfield News-Sun will recap the entire year in area news in Sunday’s edition, and four of the top 11 stories are school related.

Below are some of the other top school stories of 2017.

Global Impact STEM Academy opens middle school

The Global Impact STEM Academy opened its doors to seventh-and-eighth-grade students this year.

The School had its first graduation in the spring of 2017 and then in August opened its new middle school.

Officials said the expansion has been a success so far.

Springfield High School removes academies

In 2017, The Springfield High School leaders decided to change the structure of the school it had since it opened in 2008.

Previously, the Springfield students picked an academy to enroll in and would take classes in that academy. The idea was to have smaller schools inside the larger one so no students got lost in the shuffle.

However, school leaders decided it was time to move to a more traditional, one principal high school this year and school leaders told the newspaper that it's working.

Shawnee baseball investigation

In March, Clark-Shawnee Local Schools opened an internal investigation into its baseball program because of allegations involving student-athletes.

During the investigation, the school did not play baseball games and a criminal investigation was conducted by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

The school never disclosed what the allegations were and no charges were filed by Clark County prosecutors, but the school did bar a volunteer coach from participating the rest of the season and three players were suspended.

Indian Lake superintendent charged with child sex counts

Patrick O’Donnell, who was serving as the Indian Lake Superintendent in Logan County at the time, was charged with rape and other sexual offenses this year.

O'Donnell was fired by the board of education in November but is suing for his job back. He also has a trial date set for February. He has pleaded not guilty to the allegations.

Also, his wife, Heather O’Donnell, who worked as a superintendent at the Midwest Regional Career Center in Logan County, was charged with endangering children in the case. Her trial was combined with Patrick O’Donnell’s and she has pleaded not guilty too.

Ohio changes graduation requirements twice

For more than a decade, Ohio high school students have received diplomas by earning 20 course credits and passing the Ohio Graduation Test. But that changed for this year's seniors, as the OGT was replaced with three new test paths to graduation.

But in June, facing worries that graduation rates would drop, the state legislature changed the system again, offering current high school seniors several non-test-based options. Now students can graduate with a combination of good attendance, good grades, community service hours or independent projects.

There has been disagreement going back more than a year, some have said a more flexible system is needed, given all the testing turmoil current seniors went through, while others suggest the state is not demanding a high enough standard.

Northwestern Superintendent placed on paid leave

In November, the Northwestern Board of Education opened an investigation into allegations against Superintendent Jesse Steiner.

On Dec. 21, the board voted to put Steiner on paid leave. The board said in a statement more information will be released soon, but details of the allegations against Steiner are still few.

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