State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today responded to the Ohio Department of Education announcement that Youngstown City Schools received an F overall grade on their state report card, which, under the provisions of HB 70, the so-called “Youngstown Plan” will trigger the removal of the school board members who were elected by the residents of the city.
“The report card is merely the latest in a long series of failures which clearly demonstrate that the autocratic, unaccountable scheme created by HB 70 is nothing short of a tragic fiasco,” Rep. Lepore-Hagan said. “Removing the duly elected school board members who have been totally marginalized since the Academic Distress Commission (ADC) and appointed CEOs assumed control of the district certainly isn’t the solution to the problems that plague our school system. Doing away with HB 70 and restoring local control is.”
Under the provisions of HB 70, the state Superintendent must convene a nominating panel within 30 days if a system under the control of an ADC does not receive an overall grade of “C” or higher on the state report card after four years. The panel will nominate a slate of 10 possible candidates for appointment to the district’s board. Mayor Jamael Tito Brown will select five members from among those candidates. They will replace the existing elected board members on January 1.
“The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result,” Rep. Lepore-Hagan said. “After four wasted years, during which the elected school board was totally ignored, and often denigrated by the members of the ADC and its appointed CEO, continuing to impose the misguided and malevolent provisions of HB70 on our kids, parents, teachers, and community fits that definition.
“The answer isn’t a top-down dictatorial system that cuts out the community, it’s to emulate the community learning center concept, a model which has succeeded both here in Ohio and the nation. The Ohio Constitution guarantees that every child in our state public schools are given the tools and the skills they need to reach their full potential. It’s about time we began making good on that guarantee by scrapping what doesn’t work and embracing what does.
“To do that we must repeal HB 70. Republicans, including Governor DeWine, and Democrats alike agree it’s the right thing to do. The Senate should take up and pass HB 154 as quickly as possible.”
That legislation, introduced by State Representatives Joe Miller (D-Lorain) and Don Jones (R-Freeport), calls for the elimination of current academic distress commissions and appointed CEOs and would allow board members and administrators to establish improvement and intervention plans for each building in a school district.