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Noon headlines, April 10, 2013: Grading schools, Piketon, foster kids
Ohio schools will get letter grades; Portman defends Piketon;DNA leads to "John Doe" indictment; foster care improvements

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
In The Region:
  • Ohio schools will get letter grades
  • Portman defends Piketon investments 
  • First Cleveland "John Doe" indicted for rape based on DNA evidence
  • Public retirement board members say Hawaii trip is educational  
  • New program aids older kids in foster care 
  • Ohio schools will get letter grades
    The state of Ohio is changing how it evaluates schools and districts, switching to letter grades just like the students get. The Ohio Department of Education said today that the change will be phased in over several years, starting this fall. Schools and districts will get "A'' through "F'' letter grades instead of labels like "excellent" and "continuous improvement," which is the case now. The state school board will work with educators and communities over the coming months to determine how to award the letter grades.

    Portman defends Piketon investments  
    Confirmation hearings this week in Washington focused on a nuclear facility in Southern Ohio. USA Today reports the uranium enrichment plant in Piketon is seeking $2 billion in federal loan guarantees. President Obama’s pick for energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, has served as a consultant for the company that operates Piketon. Sen.John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, worries Moniz could have a conflict of interest regarding loans to Piketon, which Barrasso says is a waste of money. But Ohio Sen. Rob Portman defended the nomination of Moniz and the importance of Piketon. He says the U.S. needs to have a domestic source of enriched uranium.

    First Cleveland "John Doe" indicted for rape based on DNA evidence  
    A grand jury in Cleveland has returned a rape indictment against an unknown individual based on DNA evidence. The Cuyahoga County grand jury returned the six-count indictment last week in two rape cases -- one in 1993 and another in 1996. The indictment identifies the defendant in the Cleveland attacks as "John Doe No. 1" followed by numerical sequences reflecting the attacker's DNA. According to The Plain Dealer, the indictment stops the clock on the 20-year statute of limitations. The county issued an arrest warrant against the man's DNA profile in case he's arrested and his DNA is collected.

    Public pension board members say Hawaii trip is educational 
    A board member of one of Ohio's five pension funds is defending her proposal to take a public-funded trip to Hawaii for a conference. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Barbara Phillips is one of two School Employees Retirement System of Ohio board members planning to go to Hawaii in May. She told state lawmakers Tuesday she needs to go to the conference to learn more about how to invest the fund's more than $11 billion in assets. Lawmakers and the state oversight committee have repeatedly criticized the plan and urged the pension fund board to change its travel policy. The board met last month and voted against lawmakers' advice to cancel the trip and adopt a new policy.

    New program aids older kids in foster care 
    Ohio is partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters to launch an initiative to help foster children who "age out" of the system. Ohio Job and Family Services and the nonprofit announced the project today to help young adults from the foster-care system make a smoother transition to adulthood and independent living. The agency said the project will help teens prepare for work, vocational training or college. The agency says as many as 1,300 young people in Ohio age out of foster care each year.

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