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Morning Headlines: Ohio Fatal Drug Overdoses Increase; East Cleveland School District Files Lawsuit

Photo of opioids

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, September 24: 

  • Columbus Dispatch reports Ohio fatal drug overdoses increase;
  • East Cleveland school district files lawsuit against Department of Education;
  • State to distribute $12M through safety grants;
  • Canton City Schools dedicates historical marker in honor of Martin Luther King;

Ohio fatal drug overdoses increase

Fatal drug overdoses increased to a record 4,854 last year in Ohio, a 20 percent rise compared with the previous year, according to information reported to the state. The Columbus Dispatch reports data on unintentional drug deaths provided to the Ohio Department of Health show 2017 was the eighth year in a row drug deaths increased. Ohio's county coroners logged 4,050 fatal overdoses in 2016. The data shows the synthetic opioid fentanyl continued to fuel the drug epidemic, accounting for nearly three-fourths of last year's overdose deaths and killed more than 3,400 people—that’s 46 percent higher than last year. Cocaine-related deaths increased 39 percent. There was a 46 percent drop in heroin overdose deaths. Fatal overdoses from prescription opioids also fell to its lowest number in eight years.

Cleveland school district files lawsuit against Department of Education

The East Cleveland School District has filed a lawsuit against the State Department of Education to stop a state commission taking over operations. Cleveland.com reports the district filed suit Sept. 21 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court asking for a temporary restraining order against the "academic distress commission." The East Cleveland School District had received an F grade in the new state report cards, which were changed by the legislature in 2015 to allow for the state to takeover "failing" school districts. The district's suit hearing is set for November. East Cleveland is the third district to face a state takeover following Youngstown and Lorain.

State to distribute $12M through safety grants

The State is notifying schools about how they'll split $12 million that was set aside to help boost school safety and security. The Attorney General's Office said schools will get $5.65 per student, or at least $2,500 per school, through these grants for safety programs and training. The state legislature allotted the money earlier this year in a bill that also dealt with the use of school resource officers. The attorney general said training for such officers and programs to help students struggling with mental health issues are some of the ways the grants can be spent. Schools are required to work with local law enforcement to figure out how best to spend their share of the money within the next nine months

Canton City Schools dedicates historical marker in honor of Martin Luther King

Canton City Schools dedicated a historical marker to commemorate a speech given by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Memorial Fieldhouse in 1964. King was invited to Canton that year by the late Rev. Sheridan E. Lancaster, and it was Lancaster's grandson Rev. George Lancaster who delivered the invocation Sept. 21. The dedication included audio from King's Canton speech, which borrowed lines from his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. This year marks the 55th anniversary of that speech King delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Mark Arehart joined the award-winning WKSU news team as its arts/culture reporter in 2017. Before coming to Northeast Ohio, Arehart hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He previously worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.