Athletic infractions and $10,000 in fines have been handed down to the Akron Public Schools, as a result of the Ohio High School Athletic Association's investigation into problems with eligibility at APS.

Tim Stied with the OHSAA says that 16 ineligible athletes were found at five of seven APS high schools.

"We had seven kids that didn't meet the academic requirements to be eligible," Stried tells WAKR's Sam Bourquin, "and there were seven kids that had transfered in that ended being eligible retroactively, but these schools had never requested an eligibility ruling for them in the first place."

The five high schools, according to an OHSAA document, are Buchtel, East, Firestone, Garfield and Kenmore.

Stried says they started looking into APS after realizing the district didn't run standard eligibility questions by them.

The Akron schools have instituted a new eligibility checking plan under new athletic director Joe Vassalotti, which will help knock down the OHSAA fine from $12,500 to $10,000.

Stried says he's confident that the Akron schools understand what needs to be done, and should be OK moving forward.

Published in Sam Bourquin

The Akron Public Schools are looking at implementing a new plan to ensure 100% compliance with the OHSAA regulations.


This proactive approach stems from a ruling during the 2014-15 school year when the OHSAA had determined the APS committed infractions as it relates to eligibility.

APS Athletic Director Joe Vassalotti joined the Sam Bourquin Show Monday to talk about the plan and how to better educate parents, student-athletes, and others about the eligibility rules.

"We want to be transparent and do things right here and follow the bylaws of the OHSAA as exactly they should be."

Vassalotti says that among other items, building athletic directors will be checking eligibility earlier, as well as making sure student-athletes grade point average is where it should be.

He says by being 100% compliant, student athletes get the concept of doing things the right way.

"We need to follow through to make sure all paperwork is turned in in a timely manner, and ultimately we want them out there competing with their teammates."

Published in Sam Bourquin

Only if walls could talk.

Faculty, students and members of the community walked inside Margaret Park elementary school for one last time on Saturday, as the school is scheduled to be torn down for the Imagine Akron Schools project.

Former principal John Ross led the school from 2000-2006, a couple of years before it closed in 2008. Ross said he is going to miss the school--he calls a landmark--primarily because of the children.

"The fact that we were able to be there for the [students]," Ross said. "That's what education is all about. It's not about us. It's about the children and that's what i'm going to miss the most."

Childhood classmates filled the hallways once again with laughter, reminiscing about the good ole days. Students from the 1960s to the early 2000s paid their respects to the school that helped make them who they are today.

Elizabeth Lynn Talley attended Margaret Park from kindergarten to sixth grade. Talley drove all the way from Charlotte, North Carolina to see the school, where she found her love for music, art and eventually her husband.

"He was a year behind me and I was like I am not going to talk to this little boy," Talley said. "But he found me on Facebook in February or March of 2011 and we got married in August 2011."

Talley, who created a Margaret Park Facebook page for alumnus that has garnered more than 300 likes, said she learned a lot from her childhood teachers from photography to sewing. She said it was the influence of her charismatic teachers that made her want to become a teacher.

"I eventually became a teacher because I loved school," Talley said. "These teachers that were here, they instilled such a love and a value of education in me, where I said I never wanted to leave school again."

One of the many influential teachers at Margaret Park was Linda Kosar. Kosar came to Margaret Park in 1993, after teaching at a number of different school districts in Ohio.

Kosar said she had her best time at Margaret Park because of the children and the close staff.

"I can't even explain it all," Kosar said. "Because I'm telling you, it was my best chunk of teaching years."

Kosar said she remembered when she was interviewed for the job at Margaret Park and the principal explaining the challenges she may have with the children at the school.

She said that didn't scare her away and she came into the school with a "jets burning" mentality.

"The children are going to be really really different than what you are use to," Kosar said reflecting back on the sit down with the principal. She replied, "I don't think so, children are children no matter where they come from; they still have the same needs."

Talley said when the school gets knocked down, "it will not only be a hole in the ground, but also a hole in my heart."

Published in Local

A night custodian at Helen Arnold school in Akron has been arrested on sexual assault charges involving his daughter.

41 year-old Kevin Dasen is accused with possibly sexually assaulting his 19 year-old daughter.

School officials say Dasen has no contact with students at Helen Arnold CLC in his job as a night custodian. He's worked for the district since 1999.

A letter is being sent home with students assuring parents that Dasen was never around students, arriving for work after they left for the day.

Published in Local

Akron East will have a new boys basketball coach this upcoming season, and for basketball fans it's a familiar name in most hoops circles in Northeast Ohio.

Willie McGee will be the new head coach of the Dragons pending board approval from the Akron Public Schools.

McGee joined the Sam Bourquin Show Monday to talk about his new challenge and how he plans to impact the young people's lives on and off the court.


McGee was an assistant at Chowan University in North Carolina. He was also notably part of the St. Vincent-St. Mary Fab 5 which featured Dru Joyce III, Sian Cotton, Romeo Travis, and of course Cavaliers star and 4-time NBA MVP LeBron James.

Willie says he looks forward to meeting the young men that will be making up the Dragons' basketball roster and knows that while it will be a work in progress, he looks forward to the challenge.

Published in Sam Bourquin
Tuesday, 28 April 2015 18:57

AUDIO Vassalotti Named APS AD

A familiar name to high school sports fans in the area will be serving as the athletic director of the Akron Public Schools.
Former Tallmadge head football coach Joe Vassalotti will be the new AD after a long interview process earlier in the year.

Vassalotti joined the Sam Bourquin Show Tuesday to talk about his new opportunity.

"I'm looking forward to a great challenge," says Vassalotti.

"I was looking for an administrative opportunity, and that wasn't going to happen in Tallmadge, but I'm looking forward to knowing all the coaches, administrators, and student athletes with the Akron Public Schools."

He also said he will enjoy working with Ron Linger, who served as the interim AD, Dan Rambler, and Superintendent David James as well.

Vassalotti will start his duties in the middle of June.  He says he's always had respect for the Akron Public Schools, the city series, and the traditions they have had throughout the years.

Vassalotti coached at Tallmadge for 13 seasons.


Published in Sam Bourquin

Two Akron high schools will get some college level courses, thanks to help from a grant and Kent State University.

The $480,000 grant will fuel a partnership called "College Today", using KSU instructors at Akron's Ellet and Firestone High Schools to teach college-level courses in English and Math.

The partnership with Akron Public Schools targets "at-risk" students who otherwise might not meet academic requirements to enroll in basic college English and math classes.


(Kent State University, news release) Reading, writing and arithmetic are getting a college-styled makeover in two Akron, Ohio, high schools.

Through a $480,000 grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, the partnership called College Today will send Kent State University instructors into Ellet High School and Firestone High School to teach college-level English and math.

The initiative is collaboration between Kent State's College of Education, Health and Human Services, College of Arts and Sciences and Akron Public Schools.

The partnership targets at-risk students who might not otherwise meet the academic requirements to enroll in first-year basic college English and math classes. These students can include traditionally underrepresented populations, such as low-income students, students of color and first-generation students. Typically, the students either do not get accepted into college or are required in their first year to take remedial classes in which they do not receive college credit.

"The exciting feature of this project is that we'll be delivering college-level instruction to high school juniors on a daily basis," said William Kist, Ph.D., Kent State's principal investigator of the grant who serves as an associate professor in Kent State's College of Education, Health and Human Services. "But this instruction will be designed and delivered in ways that meet their individual needs."

The program also will provide a year-round support system to guide the students including tutoring, mentoring, shadowing, review and practice sessions, summer camps, and one-on-one and small group interventions.

"At the end of the junior year, all students will have the chance to take the College Level Examination Program (CLEP)," Kist said. "If successful, they will receive college credit for the first English and math course upon entry into college."

This will be repeated at the end of the senior year and, depending on the student's CLEP scores, might enter college having completed all first-year English and math requirements. Students who have not successfully passed the CLEP test will repeat the coursework and receive additional tutoring to prepare them for the next round of CLEP testing.

College Today will recruit students starting in May 2015 based on EXPLORE test results in reading, English and math, GPA, recommendations and course work.

Published in Local
Friday, 24 April 2015 16:48

PARCC Tests Ramp Up Again

Some students are fretting over the second round of the controversial "PARCC" state standard tests that are getting underway.

The first round was back in February and March, the so-called "Performance-Based Assesments" with longer answers.

"They really had to utilize their problem solving skills," Aimee Kirsch with Akron Public Schools tells, "to write out their thinking about how they would solve a problem in the area of reading or math."

This time, Kirsch says the "End of Course" exams are closer to traditional tests.

But she says "PARCC" testing overall is much more rigorous than what students did in the past.

"A lot of that's because they're really calling on our students to utilize higher levels of thinking, having them really solve problems," Kirsch says, "and not only be able solve them, but describe how they are solving the problems."

Kirsch says the actual test taking is more flexible for students.

"They can take it more by themselves or in a small group setting," Kirsch says. "We're also able to allow our students to take breaks throughout the testing, so they don't have to sit there for the entire hour or two hours that the test requires."

The final results this year will combine results from both testing rounds.

Published in Local

Mrs. Traci Buckner, Director of Special Programs at Akron Public Schools, joins Ray to talk about Akron Public School's Stem School. Buckner explains that they started with young kids to get them hooked before they decided that they didn't like certain subjects. She tells Ray that there are many kids involved in this program. Buckner tells Ray how parents sign their kids up and how kids are selected randomly so that every child has an opportunity. Buckner explains the problem based learning curriculum to Ray.

The Stem School teaches children many skills such as critical thinking and other 21st century skills. She says that the learning coaches take the kids through the problem and the process step by step. As adults, this is a very critical skill for children to learn. She tells Ray that middle school students obtain high school credits before getting there.


Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Saturday, 14 March 2015 06:42

School Fight Leaves Student In Hospital

North High School officials were forced to block off entry to the school after a fight broke out Friday afternoon.

The Beacon Journal reports eight girls are now facing suspensions or expulsions after a brawl that started with an argument between two girls. That fight left the principal with a bruised face and a student in the hospital with chest pains.

For about 40 minutes, North High didn't let in anyone, locking all points of entry. The Safe School Watch ended at about 2:10 p.m.

APS officials sent a letter home with students, and will make robocalls to North High families, with information on the incident.

On the web:

Published in Local
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