Ohio lawmaker and Youngstown school officials at odds over performance and CEO

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The virtual town hall meeting on the possibility of repealing House Bill 70 included a scathing indictment of the law

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Much of what was said during Monday’s virtual town hall meeting opposing the state take over of school districts in Ohio we have heard before.

It was, however, the first time we heard just how passionate Republican State Senator Mike Rulli is about getting rid of House Bill 70, the law that created the Academic Distress Commissions.

The virtual town hall meeting on the possibility of repealing House Bill 70 included a scathing indictment of the law from Mahoning County State Senator Mike Rulli.

Rulli, who previously served on the Leetonia School Board, was then critical of Youngstown Schools CEO Justin Jennings, whose hiring was made possible through HB 70.

“House Bill 70 – a horrible piece of legislation,” Rulli said. “You see the despair that CEO Jennings has performed on Youngstown’s schools for the last year. It’s been horrible. No broadband. Half the kids never signed on once for the virtual classrooms. We have lost a generation because of House Bill 70.”

Rulli said he’s focused on legislation introduced by State Senator Nathan Manning of North Ridgeville, which would set up a plan to return the Lorain Schools to local control. Youngstown and East Cleveland are not yet part of the bill

“We are going to fix this. We are going to pull Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland right out of this academic distress,” Rulli said.

Rulli was also vocal about what happens once HB 70 is gone. Solving the major academic problems of Youngstown Schools, Rulli says, can not be left solely to that of the school board.

“We need the parents. We need the student union. We need the teachers. We need the regular union. We need the community. We need the pastors. We need the senators, the House representatives. We all need to come together and fix the problems that we have,” Rulli said.

In response to Senator Rulli’s criticism of the Youngstown Schools, the school system issued this response”

Sen. Rulli has twice in recent weeks canceled meetings that were set up between himself and Mr. Jennings. I don’t know what “despair” for the last year he’s talking about. We have had a small number of scholars, maybe 8%, who haven’t signed on. It certainly isn’t half. At the beginning of the school year, each family was provided with either a hotspot or a home Internet connection. That is at no cost to them. So again, I’m not sure what the senator is referring to. We also provided a device, either a Chromebook or an iPad, to each scholar. It also bears mention that under a CEO, our graduation rate has increased significantly.

Youngstown City School District

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