The racially tinged Halloween rant on Facebook by a Firestone High School music teacher has officially cost the educator his job.
The Akron Public School Board on Monday voted unanimously to accept a referee’s decision that terminates the employment of David Spondike.
The 18-page decision found that Spondike’s Facebook posting last October in which he repeatedly used the N-word violated the district’s staff conduct and social media policies.
The referee’s ruling upholds an earlier decision by school board members to fire Spondike.
“It’s an unfortunate incident and we’re happy to put it behind us,” said board President Lisa Mansfield.
Spondike, who has been on unpaid leave since the posting came to the attention of school officials, did not attend the school board meeting. He could not be reached for comment.
His only recourse to return to the classroom is to file a lawsuit.
The derogatory posts were made after Spondike said a black teen urinated on a utility pole outside his Copley Township home when the township held its trick-or-treating on Oct. 27.
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 [racial slur and expletive] back where it came from. I don’t have anything against anyone of color, but [racial slur] stay out.”
He then wrote 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.”
The posts were almost immediately sent to school officials and the media and Spondike, a teacher in the district since 1998, was removed from his classroom on Oct. 28.
According to the referee’s report, Firestone Principal Lavonne Humphrey testified that, although Spondike was a good teacher, his conduct caused a rift in the community and cost him his “credibility and integrity” to work in a classroom.
“David gave that up on Oct. 28 and that weekend. He lost that with his staff members and with the Firestone community,” she said, according to the report.
Five days after the postings, Spondike, 51, went on YouTube and, during a series of bizarre videos, denied writing the posts. In one video, he appeared with a friend and his friend’s 19-year-old son, who claimed he wrote the comments on Spondike’s Facebook account.
In other videos, Spondike criticized the media for “lying” to the public and failing to get his side of the story. He also told viewers he was not racist and had many black friends.
By mid-November, as the media were questioning the veracity of the YouTube videos and the friend’s son’s claims of writing the posts, Spondike admitted he actually posted the racist comments.
His admission came in a letter to school administrators and Spondike said he had sought counseling for anger management in the hopes of one day returning to the classroom. He also defended his right to make the slurs, contending they were written off school time.
The Akron school board voted Dec. 9 to terminate his contract opening the door for the hearing before the state-appointed referee.
“He did what he did and the referee determined that is a reason to terminate his employment for good and just cause,” district Superintendent David James said Monday.
“It caused a lot of controversy at the school, particularly that morning, because even I was getting emails and calls from folks in the community. A lot of people were very upset.”