Ohio News Briefs

Teacher suspended after saying “go back to your country”

CHARDON, Ohio (AP) — A middle school teacher in Ohio who says he jokingly told a student to “go back to your country” has been suspended.

School officials in Chardon near Cleveland say science teacher Steve Patterson has a history of making inappropriate comments to students.

The district says the suspension comes after a student in November corrected the teacher for mispronouncing her name and he responded by saying “go back to your country.”

Patterson told school officials he was joking.

A resolution approved by the board this month says a student a year ago asked if Patterson was a dictator like Adolf Hitler. The board says he responded by saying “if I was Hitler, does that mean I put you in an oven?”

A message seeking comment was left with Patterson on Friday.

Michigan authorities investigating Ohio school official

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — State police in Michigan are reopening an investigation into a former teacher recently elected to a school board in Ohio even though that district banned him from its buildings.

A Michigan State Police spokesman says they’re looking into sexual conduct allegations made against Patrick Hickey that go back to 1990.

A police report says a woman told investigators she had sex with Hickey when she was 14 and he was a teacher in Addison, Michigan. But authorities say she didn’t want to pursue charges.

Hickey has denied those allegations. State police say the woman now wants to move forward with charges.

He resigned as a superintendent in the Toledo area in 2015 and was banned after an altercation at the school. He won a board seat in November.

Former school worker pleads guilty to stealing bus passes

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former employee of an Ohio school district has pleaded guilty to stealing bus passes meant for low-income students.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that 63-year-old Mary Cockrell entered the plea Thursday to a felony count of theft in office. She paid $6,200 in restitution and was sentenced to time served.

Cockrell worked for the transportation department of Columbus City Schools in March 2017 when she took a bundle of 100 Central Ohio Transit Authority bus passes.

Columbus police and the Ohio auditor’s office investigated after discovering that the monthly passes were being advertised online at a discount. They found that the passes were being sold by Jason Morris, who was dating Cockrell’s daughter. Morris pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of receiving stolen property.

Democratic justice leaves bench for Ohio governor’s race

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The lone Democrat on the Ohio Supreme Court said Friday he’s officially left the bench to join a crowded governor’s race.

Justice William O’Neill said his departure was official as of midnight.

O’Neill had taken himself off cases before the court but defended his decision to stay until Friday, saying he isn’t officially a candidate until he files early next month. Some Republican lawmakers tried to oust him early.

O’Neill said he’s spending his first day off the court raising money, gathering petitions and preparing for the Ohio Democratic Party vetting process. He plans to discuss his platform at a Cleveland speech on Tuesday.

Candidates who pass party vetting can participate in party-sanctioned debates and forums. The party is staying neutral during the primary.

Five candidates including O’Neill are running in the May Democratic primary for governor.

Gov. John Kasich, who is term-limited, on Thursday named Youngstown appeals court Judge Mary DeGenaro to fill O’Neill’s seat.