YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An all-encompassing coronavirus bill passed Wednesday by the Ohio Legislature also extends the use of an academic distress commission and CEO for the Youngstown City School District through the next school year.
It happened despite a letter being sent to Gov. Mike DeWine asking him to abolish the commission and CEO.
The letter was generated by state Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan and signed by 21 different people. Those who did not sign it included Youngstown councilmembers Julius Oliver and Basia Adamczak.
When Adamczak failed to sign, her children — who attend Youngstown schools — were brought into the debate. One person familiar with the city schools was not happy with that.
“How would you like your children to be thrown into the mix?” asked Jimma McWilson.
Through his work with the NAACP and the Parent-Student Union, McWilson has lobbied hard for better academic opportunities in the Youngstown Schools.
Recently, McWilson received an email from Youngstown Teachers Union President Larry Ellis asking teachers to contact Oliver and Adamczak regarding the letter they didn’t sign.
In the email, Ellis also wrote that “Councilwoman Adamczak has children at [Youngstown Early College] — actually, it’s Rayen Early College — and she thinks everything is fine” in the city schools.
McWilson says putting pressure on a public servant and including their children in the same sentence borders on a threat.
“I’m concerned about the child. How is that child going to react and what if somebody in the classroom says your mother thinks everything is fine and we need control? What is the child going to say? They don’t know anything about it. They don’t understand it,” McWilson said.
Adamczak called using her children in the email irresponsible and bad judgment.
“I mean, I don’t mind someone having a grievance or concern to address me directly but I think bringing children in is always off limits,” she said.
When contacted, Ellis said, “I was not issuing any threats,” McWilson is fine with the teachers union opposing the state takeover.
“Just don’t put the kids in the middle of it when you know that could harm them. You’re supposed to have a safe, secure, healthy environment for the kids. Either make it so or not,” McWilson said.
Lepore-Hagan said her letter to the governor was to show him that the system around academic distress commissions has failed, saying she wanted a group of community leaders to support her.
She said she didn’t know how “it spun out of control” but didn’t want to lose focus on the intention of the letter.