Early in his career as a high school music teacher, David Spondike was upset at students one day, so he did something that likely a few of his colleagues often feel like doing but never try: He yelled "f**k you" at his charges and threw a chair across the room.
Spondike, who holds a Ph.D. in music theory and composition, was reprimanded by Firestone High School in Akron, Ohio, for his chair-tossing and cursing back in December 2000.
Of course, assuming administrators knew Spondike worked as an assistant director for the infamous Jerry Springer Show in Cincinnati from 1991 to 1993, they might have concluded Spondike wasn't unfamiliar with such behavior.
But then there was his spitting-on-the-floor incident two months later (a student fell asleep in class; Spondike was reprimanded). And then in March 2007, Spondike was accused of choking a middle school student; police and child services cleared him, saying it was unsubstantiated.
Which brings us to October 2013. Spondike, apparently upset at an early trick-or-treater who urinated outside his house in front of children over the weekend, had this to say on his Facebook page last Sunday night (Warning: offensive language ahead):
Not surprisingly, Spondike's message got back to his bosses, and now he's been placed on paid administrative leave while Akron Public Schools investigate, reported WKYC-TV in Cleveland.
“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.”
“It was just like someone had put hot water on me,” Ophelia Averitt, president of the Akron chapter of the NAACP, told WJW-TV in Cleveland, adding that members are gathering signatures on petitions that ask the Akron school district to permanently remove Spondike from the classroom.
“When you put things like that in the mind of young, old or otherwise, it’s often not forgettable...something that will take them through life..." Averitt added.
Sheila Moore told WJW she works with the NAACP, has a child at Firestone High School, and doesn't want teachers who "do not know how to communicate with kids, treat them fairly and be an example."
Spondike, 51, has apologized for those his Facebook post offended; he added other messages that same night, according to the Akron Beacon Journal:
- “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.”
- “...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.”
- “I wish Firestone High School, and I am sure at other schools would stop openly and unabashedly using the word [racial slur]"
- “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.”
- “If you want to go after racists, go after racists. 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.”
In addition, according to Akron News Now, Spondike posted this comment: "Anybody who reads my page knows that I am more offensive, more often, and more consistently towards conservative white males than any other group of people."
Zee Love Aiyana responded (Warning: Potentially offensive language ahead): "Lmao [ni**er] means an ignorant person. So idk why people cry so much especially when the person is in fact acting ignorant. There is a difference between using it maliciously and using it the correct way. If the person was black he opened the door to be called the word. I was taught not to be offended by the word, because I know that is not what I am nor will it ever be." Spondike replied, "Thank you, Zee. And you are so right about the last phrase!!!"
Spondike's Facebook page, as well as his Twitter page (DrSpikesMTC) and his music education site (drspikesmusictheoryclinic.com), were down Wednesday morning. His YouTube page was still available, however, Wednesday morning.
Spondike has received positive teacher evaluations and even a note of thanks from a student, according to WKYC, which accessed his personnel file and reported his past incidents and reprimands. The school referred Spondike to a counselor, according to the Beacon Journal.
Here's a report from WKYC:
This report from WJW-TV in Cleveland shows Spondike teaching an orchestra class from a previous news story and updates with details on his Facebook post:
And finally, here's a YouTube introduction of the music education Spondike offers (or, as he says some of his students call him — "DSpike.")