Youngstown City School District sues over state takeover

Youngstown City Schools bus


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Friday, the Youngstown City School District Board of Education sued the state of Ohio, claiming in a news release that the action of appointing a CEO to oversee an academic distress commission that would run the district violates the U.S. and Ohio constitutions.

The Youngstown School Board has asked for an injunction to keep the state from establishing the commission on October 14 as set forth in Ohio House Bill 70 because:

  • They believe their authority would be eliminated if the bill proceeds as planned.
  • According to the board, holding up HB 70 wouldn’t hurt anyone.
  • The public would be protected by legislators waiting to properly enact laws, the board stated.

The board joined together with the Ohio Education Association, the Youngstown Education Association, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees to file legal action in Franklin County. So why are the teachers involved? “We know parents want us to be part of that discussion”, says Y.E.A. Vice President Paula Valentini. “We know the community wants us to be a part of that discussion. And so hopefully with this lawsuit, we’ll see that is exactly what happens”.

The Ohio Senate passed the bill into law June 24, which allowed the state to disband the academic distress commission that was overseeing the district. But it was an amended bill that did not receive the required three readings. State Senator Joe Schiavoni says he tried to stop the process that day. “I did everything I could. I got in my car the night before and drove down and had hearings until 3 a.m. We then at 9 o’clock had a first hearing.”

The bill also gave the state the right to appoint a CEO with full control over every decision in the district who could decide what rights, if any, would be assigned to the Board of Education. The group that is suing the state believes that the bill would give too much power to the CEO.

The group also accuses the house of unfairly taking power away from voters by appointing an un-elected CEO over the district.

They also ask for an injunction to prevent the law from going into effect on October 14. Says School Board President Brenda Kimble, “It’s very important. It’s most important. Because we would like to have this stopped. While we fight this in court.”

The group’s press release closes with this line:

Reasonable minds may disagree on the steps necessary to improve education in Youngstown City Schools and in every district across the state.  However, when vitally altered bills are secretly drafted and made law over the course of a single day, the students, parents, employees, and taxpayers of Ohio are not well served.

 

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