YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Lawyers for Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said Wednesday they do not oppose a motion by the city school district to stop Brown from appointing a new board of education.
Law Director Jeffrey Limbian told Visiting Judge Thomas Pokorny that the mayor wants to see how their appeal of House Bill 70 plays out in the state Supreme Court.
There was a hearing Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on the district’s motion to issue a restraining order against Brown.
“We think it’s wise that this matter be held in a holding pattern or limbo until the Supreme Court makes its decision,” Limbian said.
The board filed a motion for a restraining order Monday, opposing Brown appointing a new board. He is allowed to do so under House Bill 70 if the district has been in academic emergency for four years.
However, district attorney Ted Roberts told Judge Pokorny that HB 70 was enacted in the middle of the 2015-2016 school year, which means it has not been in effect for four years.
“Our concern is that the time has not come because it is occurring one year prematurely,” Roberts said.
HB 70 was enacted because of falling test scores in the district over a period of several years. The academic distress commission created by the bill allows for the hiring of a chief executive officer who has power over the board and superintendent.
Two weeks ago, the district argued an appeal of the bill before the Supreme Court, saying it’s unconstitutional.
Limbian said Brown is not opposed to the board, but he does want to follow the law. With an appeal pending, Limbian said it is better to wait and see how the Supreme Court rules on HB 70.
The district and the city will submit a proposed order to Judge Pokorny next week on the request for a restraining order. A status conference on the case will be held in April.