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Democratic lawmakers, education coalition urge suspension of state takeovers of public schools

Say pending Supreme Court appeal of HB 70, Youngstown Plan disaster highlights need to stop state takeovers
November 28, 2018
Democrat Newsroom

State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), Kent Smith (D-Euclid), and Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today joined Community Leadership Coalition on Education (CLCE) members during their legislative advocacy day urging the passage of House Bill (HB) 626, legislation to halt state takeover of public schools. CLCE is a group of advocates from Youngstown, Lorain, East Cleveland, and other communities around Ohio whose local school districts are or may soon be subject to state takeover as implemented under HB 70.

“HB 70 neutered the duly-elected school board members and gave an autocratic, unaccountable, appointed CEO total control over every facet of the system,” said Lepore-Hagan. “The Youngstown Plan has been a failure and a disaster, but it seems Gov. Kasich and the anti-public school zealots who created this debacle don’t use objective criteria to evaluate what has happened.”

Under current law, school districts that receive three consecutive “F” ratings from the Ohio Department of Education are placed under an Academic Distress Commission (ADC) where an appointed CEO is given sweeping control over the district. Youngstown City School District and Lorain City Schools have been placed under an ADC’s control, while East Cleveland, Warrensville Heights and Trotwood schools remain under threat.

“The truth is this is a power grab by profit-motivated privateers who have no real interest in educating Ohio's vulnerable children,” said Rep. Fedor, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and Career Readiness. “As we’ve seen in Youngstown, the state takeover model does not work. It’s simply a Trojan horse.”

CLCE’s legislative day of advocacy comes just weeks after the Ohio Supreme Court announced it would hear an appeal of HB 70.

“Every Ohio child has the potential to change the world, but Columbus politicians and the incoming governor need to get serious about investing in their futures,” said Smith. “The state takeover of a school district is unnecessary and has been proven unsuccessful in Ohio. Statehouse Republicans need to abandon their ‘Columbus-knows-best’ model and stop shortchanging our kids as it continues to empower unsuccessful, unproven, unaccountable bureaucrats instead of local leaders who know their community best.”

HB 626 is in the House Education and Career Readiness Committee awaiting its first hearing.