Panel responsible for choosing Youngstown School Board met with criticism

Local News

There are some who aren't happy about the seven-person panel picking new candidates for the school board

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The consequences of House Bill 70 were on full display Thursday evening as the first meeting was held to pick a new school board. It came after the Youngstown City School District received its fourth consecutive F on a state report card.

The community was introduced to the seven-person nominating panel, which will now have 30 days to choose at least 10 people interested in being on the board.

The nominations will be forwarded to Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown, who will have another 30 days to choose a new five-member Youngstown School Board.

On Thursday, Ohio Superintendent of Schools Paolo DeMaria made his first appearance in Youngtown since HB 70 became law to announce the process of selecting a new school board.

East High Principal Jeremy Batchelor is on the nominating panel, along with Academic Distress Commission Chairman John Richard, Mayor Tito Brown’s selections — Germaine Bennett amd Tom DeGenova, parent Rikki Queened, teacher Jane Haggerty and CEO Justin Jennings.

DeMaria was clear that no person currently holding elected office is eligible, but people running in November who are not currently on the board are eligible even if they win — a rule current board member Tina Cvetkovich disagreed with.

“The community voted for them. They’ve elected them. So how can they be appointed to this board? It’s not fair. If we can’t be considered, they shouldn’t be considered either,” she said.

When the meeting was over, we asked DeMaria about the need for changing a school board which has no control over the district. He said someday, the Academic Distress Commission will be gone.

“Ultimately, there will be a transition from the ADC to a new school board.”

DeMaria is the one who declares a district is in academic emergency. When it comes to HB 70, he wants more flexibility.

“If a district’s on an improvement trajectory and that improvement trajectory is demonstrable, then I should be able to say, ‘You know what? I’m going to take a year off and let them go,'” he said.

“I’m really disappointed in this whole process,” Rev. Ken Simon said.

He said he will not apply to be an appointed school board member, saying he won’t be part of a wicked system.

Anyone interested in serving on the new school board should contact one of the members of the nominating panel.

School board members must live in the Youngstown School District. The panel is also looking specifically for two people with expertise in education, finance or business management.

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