Examining the history of Beech Grove while highlighting businesses that are seemingly "Invisible" by others

Friday, August 10, 2018

Beech Grove, Indiana sex offender caught in Ohio

Beech Grove, Indiana (August 10, 2018) — An Ohio County sheriff’s deputy on Sunday arrested a convicted sex offender from Indiana who was reportedly taking photos of juveniles participating in a swim meet for athletes up to 14 years old at the Spire Institute athletic complex.

James F. Renick, 69, of 56 S. Third Ave., Beech Grove, Indiana, faces one second-degree misdemeanor count of obstructing justice in Western County Court for reportedly providing a false identity when confronted by the deputy.

Mug Shot: James F. Renick

One of the swim meet officials contacted county authorities after Renick made confusing statements about his reason for being at the meet. Officials said Renick was wearing a photographer’s vest and carried professional cameras. They’d previously seen him at swim meets at Cleveland State University, Columbus and Canton, as well as Indiana University-Perdue University in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“(An official) told me that James was instructed to only take pictures of the children while they were in a certain area of the water and not while they (were) waiting in the dive area,” the deputy wrote in his report. “(The official) and I both observed James taking pictures of the children while they were standing in a restricted area.”

When approached by the deputy, Renick reportedly gave the deputy a fake name and date of birth. The county dispatcher checking that information was unable to return any police records, the report states.

Renick “appeared very nervous, his hands began to shake and he fumbled with removing SD cards from his camera and switching it with another,” the report states. Renick’s reasons for attending the event changed multiple times while speaking with the deputy, he noted.

“I told James that I didn’t believe a word he was saying,” the deputy wrote. “James said he would just leave the facility.”

When asked, Renick also denied being a registered sex offender or under any conditions preventing him from being around children. Upon exiting the complex, however, Renick produced his driver’s license and dispatchers learned he is a registered sex offender for life.

Renick, a former TV news reporter, pleaded guilty in 1996 to molesting two boys under the age of 10 in Pennsylvania, and served six years in a Pennsylvania state prison.

According to The (Allentown) Morning Call, authorities conducting a June 1995 search of Renick’s Pennsylvania home found “thousands of photographs of young boys naked and in bathing suits” as well as other sexually explicit material.

Sex Offender Data Sheet: James F. Renick

The Ashtabula County deputy on Sunday searched three of Renick’s camera memory cards and while they had many images of children at sporting events, none of the images were sexually explicit or involved nudity, the report states.

In 2015, 13 years after he was released from prison, Renick was caught with camera equipment outside his Indiana home and sentenced to an additional two years of probation for breaking a condition of his release, according to The (Scranton) Times-Tribune.

Renick remains in the Ashtabula County jail. He pleaded not guilty Monday in Western County Court, where his bond was set at $25,000 or 10 percent cash or surety, with the condition that he have no contact with children or photography equipment. A court hearing date is set for Aug. 21 in that court.

Court records do not list an attorney for Renick.

Search for sex offenders in your area: Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry  

SOURCE: Star Beacon

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Beech Grove City Schools will receive $226,028 for drug abuse fight

Beech Grove, Indiana (August 9, 2018) — Adults in Indiana are more likely to die from a drug overdose than a car accident. And for many Hoosiers, substance abuse begins in adolescence.

That’s what spurred the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, an Indianapolis philanthropy, to create an ambitious grant program to help schools roll out new substance use prevention strategies. The foundation announced Tuesday $7.5 million in grants to 24 Marion County schools and districts.

Because substance abuse often begins early, schools across Indiana have an opportunity to reduce drug, alcohol, and tobacco use. But just 11 percent of Marion County schools reported using a proven prevention curriculum in a survey last year. With the grants, the foundation hopes to increase the number of schools using evidence-based substance abuse prevention programs, said Claire Fiddian-Green, president and CEO of the foundation.

“It feels like a really urgent need to help equip students with information so they can make better decisions and not fall into the trap of addiction,” Fiddian-Green said. “Schools can and should play a really powerful role.”

The foundation has committed more than $10.2 million since January at Marion County schools, including the $7.5 million in implementation grants announced Tuesday, $860,000 in planning grants, and about $1.8 million in ongoing technical assistance and evaluation.

The grants are expected to help schools reach over 71,000 children and teenagers — about 44 percent of all students in the county — over the next two school years.

The largest grant will go to Indianapolis Public Schools, which was awarded $1.7 million. The grant will allow the district to use proven resources to help students avoid substance use, Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said in a statement.

“Opioid use has reached a crisis level in central Indiana and across the state,” he said.

School-based drug abuse prevention classes have a spotty track record. The best known substance abuse prevention program is D.A.R.E., Drug Abuse Resistance Education. That program has been found to be completely ineffective. But there are other approaches that have been shown to work.

Fairbanks partnered with the Indiana Prevention Resource Center to develop a list of programs that research shows lead to short- and long-term reductions in drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, Fiddian-Green said. In order to receive the grants, schools must choose from those evidence-based programs.

Indianapolis Public Schools will use Second Step in elementary and middle schools. The program is not specific to substance abuse — instead, it is a broad social-emotional learning curriculum designed to promote social-emotional competence and self-regulation.

As opioid use has roiled Indiana, Fairbanks has supported other efforts to address the immediate crisis, such grants focused on expanding access to treatment, Fiddian-Green said. But the foundation is also looking for longer-term strategies to reduce abuse in the future.

“It’s opioids today, it could be something else tomorrow,” she said. “Prevention with children and teens seems like the next place to go.”

These 24 Marion County schools and districts received grants

Beech Grove City Schools $226,028

Bishop Chatard High School $100,655

Cardinal Ritter High School $108,545

Cathedral High School $86,010

Cold Springs School $146,275

Edison School of the Arts $29,744

Franklin Township Community School Corporation $235,501

Global Preparatory Academy $12,430

Indiana Math and Science Academies $130,000

Indianapolis Public Schools $1,738,721

KIPP Indy Public Schools $180,500

Lighthouse Academies $192,104

Matchbook Learning $176,871

MSD of Decatur Township $283,587

MSD of Lawrence Township $943,551

MSD of Wayne Township $1,282,439

Perry Township Schools $517,265

Purdue Polytechnic High School $341,049

Roncalli High School $139,294

Scecina Memorial High School $85,704

Shepherd Community School $130,199

The Independence Academy $24,870

The Orchard School $142,500

Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School $260,000

SOURCE: ChalkBeat
By Dylan Peers McCoy

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Beech Grove Schools receive grant money from Lily Endowment

Beech Grove, Indiana (July 21, 2018) — About a year ago, the counselors in the Beech Grove school district made a discovery: They were spending less than half of their time on counseling.

Instead of meeting with students one-on-one or in small groups, they were spending most of their days on routine tasks, such as overseeing lunch, proctoring exams, and filling in for secretaries.

When they realized how much time those other tasks were taking away from counseling work, it was “an eye-opener for everyone,” said Paige Anderson, the district college and career coordinator.

The counselors began tracking their time as part of a planning grant from the Lilly Endowment, a prominent Indianapolis-based philanthropy. In 2016, the foundation launched Comprehensive Counseling Initiative for Indiana K-12 Students, a $49 million effort to improve counseling in Indiana. Experts say meaningful counseling can help schools support students as they navigate problems both at home and in the classroom. (The Lilly Endowment also supports Chalkbeat. Learn more about our funding here.)

What Beech Grove staff members learned during their planning process is already changing their approach to counseling, said Trudi Wolfe, a counselor at Central Elementary School, who was instrumental in applying for the Lilly grants. Now, administrators are taking on more tasks like proctoring tests. And one intermediate school hired a new counselor.

“The schools will take counselors and meet the needs of the school,” Wolfe said. “Part of the process is helping administrators understand, school counselors need to be doing school counseling.”

Last month, the endowment announced its second round of implementation grants, which awarded about $12.2 million to 39 schools and districts. Beech Grove will receive $259,727 to redesign its counseling program to focus on the social and emotional needs of students, with the largest chunk of that money going to staff training.
The aim is to develop a strategy for handling the trauma that students face at home, said Wolfe. Over the past 10 years, the number of students in the district who are poor enough to get subsidized meals has risen by about 25 percentage points to 72 percent of students.

Beech Grove has also been affected by the opioid crisis, said Wolfe. “We have kids living with parents who are dependent on drugs, and they are not meeting the needs of their children.”

Those growing challenges mean that it is essential for counselors to have a plan for helping students instead of just meeting the needs of each day, Wolfe said.

Counseling is an investment that can have long-term benefits. After Colorado began an initiative to hire more school counselors, participating schools had higher graduation rates, increased enrollment in career-and-technical programs, and more students taking college-level courses. A 2016 report found that by keeping students from dropping out, the Colorado program saved taxpayers more than $319 million.

But in Indiana schools, counselors often have large caseloads. In 2014-2015, Indiana had an average of 543 students per counselor, above the national average and significantly higher than the American School Counselor Association recommendation of no more than 250 students per counselor.

Hiring more counselors alone is not enough to create stronger school counseling programs, said Tim Poynton, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston who studies counseling. They also have to spend their time on meaningful counseling work.

“You need more school counselors. That’s necessary, but it’s also not sufficient,” said Poynton. “If you hire more school counselors, and you have them doing lunch duty and things that basically you don’t need a master’s degree in school counseling to do, then you’re not going to see those important metrics move.”

When schools were applying for the Lilly Endowment grants, many reported that counselors were focused on urgent social and emotional challenges and struggled to help students plan for the future, according to the endowment.

Those challenges can have ripple effects, making it harder for school staff to tackle long-term goals such as ensuring that students sign up and meet the requirements for the state’s scholarship program, 21st Century Scholars.

If counseling is done well, most students will be prepared to go to college, even if they do not seem interested when they are in high school, Poynton said. But when counselors are dealing with urgent problems, they have significantly less time to devote to college preparation, he said.

“In urban schools, school counselors are often focused on getting students to school and meeting their immediate needs,” Poynton said. “In the higher-performing suburban schools, where the students and families don’t have those same kind of issues or concerns, the emphasis is almost entirely on the college-going process.”

In a statement from the endowment, Vice President for Education Sara B. Cobb said the response to the Lilly grants shows increased awareness of the crucial need for counseling programs.

“We are impressed with how school leaders have engaged a wide variety of community partners to assess the academic, college, career and social and emotional needs of their students, and respond to them,” Cobb said.

The Lilly grants are going to a broad array of schools, and they are using the money in different ways. At Damar Charter Academy, which educates students with special needs, few students earn traditional diplomas or have good options for higher education. That’s why school staff plan to use the $100,000 counseling grant they received to build relationships with employers and create training programs for skills such as small engine repair, automotive maintenance, landscaping, and culinary arts, said Julie GurulĂ©, director of student services.

“If we can commit to getting them the skills they need while they are with us,” she said, “they will be able to go out and gain meaningful employment, and … lead the kind of lives that we all want to.”

These are the districts and schools in Marion County that received counseling grants. (Find the full list here.)

Beech Grove City Schools $259,727
Damar Charter School $100,000
Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township $671,300
Purdue Polytechnic Indianapolis High School $100,000

SOURCE: Chalkbeat
By Dylan Peers McCoy