Bill allowing state control of Youngstown City Schools not going away anytime soon

Local News

The Ohio Senate's Education Committee refused to pass a bill that would eliminate Academic Distress Commissions, like the one currently running the district

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – It appears as if House Bill 70, the bill created to oversee failing school districts in Ohio, will remain law at least for the foreseeable future.

The Ohio Senate’s Education Committee heard testimony Tuesday from two Youngstown School Board members, saying HB 70 has failed the city.

Still, the committee refused to pass a bill that would change things so it appears, for Youngstown City Schools, nothing different will be happening anytime soon.

“I am just shaking mad about this,” said State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D). “It is so unfair and it’s so unconstitutional.”

She was not happy with what happened at Tuesday’s meeting of the Senate Education Committee, which held a hearing on House Bill 154.

HB 154 would eliminate Academic Distress Commissions, like the one currently running Youngstown City Schools.

The committee failed to vote on the bill and canceled its meeting for Wednesday, which means the Senate as a whole will not be voting on HB 154 anytime soon.

Lepore-Hagan also wanted changes made to HB 70, which requires Youngstown City Schools to select a new school board after four failing grades.

“We need to have local control,” she said. “We need our locally-elected officials to represent us and this is a state strong-armed takeover of one of the poorest school districts in the nation.”

State Senator Peggy Leher (R), who chairs the Senate Education Committee, disagrees.

She said the state school superintendent still has to appoint members who live in the local community.

As for HB 70, which took over three Ohio school districts, Lehner thinks it was an overreach.

“I think they did not recognize the importance of local control and local involvement in the whole process,” she said.

Lehner said HB 154 still doesn’t address the big problem with Youngstown City Schools.

“What is causing this school to fail? Not just, ‘Let’s rush in and fix what is causing it.’ And until we have the answer to that question — and it shocked me, even under the Academic Distress Commission, no one has done a root cause analysis. No one has figured out why Youngstown has failed.”

With HB 70 remaining in place unless something unexpected happens soon, the law requiring Mayor Tito Brown to choose new school board members will likely take place before year’s end.

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