By Phil Trexler
Beacon Journal staff writer
A Firestone High School music teacher is being investigated for using racial epithets in a Facebook rant about Halloween trick-or-treaters.
David Spondike, 51, was placed on paid leave Monday pending the outcome of an internal investigation into a post made on his personal Facebook page, said Akron schools spokesman Mark Williamson.
This is at least the fourth time Spondike has been investigated by the district for inappropriate behavior.
A message left at a phone number for Spondike was not returned.
“His comments were unprofessional and unbecoming a teacher,” Superintendent David W. James said in a written statement. “Regardless of whether he was on his own time and own account doing this, he is a teacher; and his actions influence children. This is serious.”
Spondike’s comments have been removed and his Facebook account has been closed and deleted.
According to James, Spondike said he was sorry “to those who are sincerely offended.”
Spondike added, according to James, that his comments on Facebook were directed at a teenager who exposed himself in front of young children during trick-or-treating in his neighborhood Sunday night.
Spondike, who lives in Copley Township, is a full-time teacher earning $67,000 a year. He has been with the district since 1998.
Prior to coming to Akron, Spondike worked in TV in Cincinnati. One assignment in 1991 at WLWT-TV had him working as an assistant director for a new talk show, The Jerry Springer Show.
His Facebook rant came to light through an anonymous tipster who emailed Spondike’s posts to various media outlets in the area. The posts were written Sunday night, around the time Copley Township was ending its trick-or-treating.
The initial post read: “I don’t mind if you come from the ghetto to trick or treat. But when you whip out your teeny [genitalia] and [urinate] on the telephone pole in front of my front yard and a bunch of preschoolers and toddlers, you can take your [N-word] ass back where it came from. I don’t have anything against anyone of color, but [racial slur] stay out.”
He then says he “welcomes people who come from dangerous neighborhoods to mine, so their children can safely trick or treat. I feel sorry that they feel they need to do so, but they have been coming here for years.”
But Spondike then cautions against people who come to his neighborhood and act unruly.
“Your [sic] are a CRIMINAL and are not welcome in my neighborhood and you should not be welcome in your own! THAT IS WHY YOU HAVE COME TO MINE TO TRICK OR TREAT. Do not treat my neighborhood like you do your own. I HAVE THE RIGHT NOT TO BE LIKE YOU.”
Spondike further posts that he hears “that [racial slur] word more than 25 times a day in a public school, where it is used thousands of times every day by black people.”
Spondike then engages other Facebook users while he defends and explains his posts.
“I wish Firestone High School, and I am sure at other schools would stop openly and unabashedly using the word [racial slur],” he wrote.
“Racism is racism and to allow one race to use [a] word and not another IS racist. What I said was absolutely NOT racist by any stretch of the imagination.”
He continued in other posts.
“If you want to go after racists, go after racists,” he wrote. “If you want to be a language policeman, I suggest you find yourself in a George Orwell novel. When I try to get the teenagers in my school to stop using the word [racial slur], I only get laughed at.”
Copley police Chief Michael Mier said Monday that the department received no complaints of misconduct or criminal activity around the township, including Spondike’s street, during the Halloween celebration.
School records show that Spondike has been investigated in the past for misconduct. In 2001, he spat on the classroom floor because he was angry when a student fell asleep, records show.
“I hope I didn’t offend you as much as you offended me,” Spondike said to the sleepy student.
He was earlier disciplined for scolding a fellow teacher because he disagreed with the instructor’s response to an incident involving a student. In 2000, he also used an expletive and threw a chair in anger while in a classroom, school records show.
He received a written reprimand following the three incidents.
“As you know, this is the third incident in which you have demonstrated unacceptable behavior over the last two years,” a human resources official wrote in a 2001 letter to Spondike notifying him of his written reprimand.
In 2007, he was investigated for restraining an unruly Goodyear Middle School student against a wall. The case was also investigated by Akron police as a potential assault. Ultimately, he was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Spondike was referred to a counselor following the three incidents.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.