YSU students paint rock opposing HB70

Local News

Hattie Wilkins and others say it takes away their right to have a say in the school system

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Some students at Youngstown State University are sending a message about their concerns with Youngstown City Schools.

“If we don’t start speaking up more in more numbers, we won’t get anything accomplished,” said Hattie Wilkins, a Youngstown resident.

Wilkins and another painted the YSU rock with messages opposed to House Bill 70. HB70 was signed into law in 2015. 

It gives the state the authority to take over academically failing schools and allow a CEO to run the district. The bill also states that if a district has been in academic emergency for four consecutive years, the school board may be dissolved and new members may be appointed. 

Youngstown City Schools received an F grade from the state report card for the fourth year in 2019. Now, the school board is subject to being reappointed by the mayor of Youngstown.

Wilkins and others say this takes away their right to have a say. 

“Now, we vote on those people, but then the government is starting to say that he’s gonna bring in a CEO and the CEO and the mayor of Youngstown is going to pick them. That’s not right. If I voted for this person and wanted them to be in office, why shouldn’t they be in office, the same way we voted for him, the mayor and the governor?” Wilkins said.

In November, the school board filed a motion for a restraining order, opposing Mayor Tito Brown appointing a new board. The current board remains in place until the Ohio Supreme Court hears the appeal.

In a statement from Youngstown City Schools, Denise Dicks said, “The Youngstown City School District appreciates that Youngstown State University students are interested in the governance of our school district. We encourage them to attend any of our public meetings to learn more about the programs and all of the exciting [things] that are happening.

It’s important to note that as of now, the board of education that’s in place is an elected board. The provision calling for a board of education appointed by the mayor didn’t take effect because of court action.”

Wilkins was accompanied by some students from a climate change and sustainability class on Wednesday. They wanted to also raise awareness on clean drinking water after a 2015 violation in the city water showed high levels of Trihalomethanes.

Wilkins said she just wants to use the YSU rock as a way to have their voices heard.

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