YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – By a 4 to 3 vote, the Youngstown School Board selected a new superintendent Tuesday night.
Current CEO Justin Jennings will take the position come July 1, when the board regains control of the school system from the Academic Distress Commission. He will get a three-year contract.
The vote, however, did not come without intense debate, including a passionate impromptu speech from Jennings himself.
There came a point at the school board meeting when — before an unusually large crowd of 50 people — Jennings had enough.
“This is embarrassing. This is absolutely embarrassing,” he said.
The meeting was filled with discussion mostly on the process of hiring Jennings.
“I don’t have a problem with Mr. Jennings personally as a person, but I do have a problem in the way business is run. This board is supposed to work together. The president shouldn’t be working, Mr. Jennings, just herself,” said school board member Brenda Kimble.
The president Kimble was referring to was Youngstown School Board President Tiffany Patterson, who pushed the effort to get Jennings hired.
“It would not be wise to bring someone else in that may want to put their own footprint on the plan that was already in place,” Patterson said.
“To not do a search is not proper, it’s not proper. The citizens of the community hired us to do the best for the kids,” said school board member Jerome Williams.
“But don’t embarrass everything that we all built,” Jennings said.
When Jennings had the floor, his emotions took over and he spoke his mind.
“When people come to Youngstown, they don’t think of good. Aren’t you tired of that? I’m not from here but I’m tired of that. It’s disheartening,” Jennings said. “If you don’t like me because I’m the CEO and I got CEO rule, that’s fine. But let’s fix what’s wrong for our kids, they deserve that. They killed each other all summer. I didn’t see a whole bunch of people in a meeting for that.”
When the emotions had calmed and the discussion was over, the board voted 4 to 3 to hire Jennings as superintendent.
Patterson, Rev. Kenneth Donaldson, Dawn Turnage and Juanita Walker voted to hire Jennings. Kimble, Williams and Tina Cvetkovich voted against hiring him.
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