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Rep. Lepore-Hagan expresses disappointment after DeWine signs SB 89, fails to eliminate academic distress commissions

December 3, 2020
Michele Lepore-Hagan News

COLUMBUS –Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today issued a statement on the current status of Academic Distress Commissions in Ohio after the governor signed Senate Bill (SB) 89 into law last week.

“I am deeply disappointed in the final version of the bill and the legislative maneuvering that derailed the House’s overwhelming desire to do away with the ‘Youngstown Plan’ that has trapped thousands of students, teachers, and parents in a failed scheme managed by unaccountable ADCs and the CEOs they appoint,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan.

On Feb. 5, 2020, the Ohio House amended and passed Senate Bill 89, legislation that became the vehicle used to replace the troubled EdChoice Scholarship Program with a new family income-based voucher system. SB 89 was also amended to include language that would dissolve the Academic Distress Commissions (ADC) that control the Youngstown, Lorain, and East Cleveland public school systems. The amendment also placed prohibited the creation of additional ADCs until 2024.

“When the amended bill passed, I added my name as a co-sponsor,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “I will support all efforts to end state takeovers in Youngstown.”

On Feb. 12, 2020, the Senate refused to concur in the House amendments and the bill went into legislative limbo.  On Nov. 18, 2020, a House/Senate Conference Committee stripped the ADC amendment from SB 89 and made significant changes to the voucher language. The Senate approved the bill that day.

“I was not able to attend the Session on November 19, 2020 (when the House took up SB 89) due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan.  “If I had been present, I would have voted against the amended version of SB 89 and removed my name as a co-sponsor because I am opposed to both the voucher program established by the bill and the decision to remove the ADC language.”

After initially indicating that he was considering a veto, Governor DeWine signed SB 89 into law on Nov. 27.

“I will continue my fight to repeal HB 70 when the 134th Session of the General Assembly convenes in January 2021,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan.