Youngstown Plan discussed in Columbus Tuesday

Youngstown City Schools bus

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) -There is one question which needs to be answered at the injunction hearing on the Youngstown Plan.

Did House Bill 70 have three readings before being voted on by state lawmakers?

H.B. 70 went from 10 pages when it was introduced to 70 pages in the final version. The state feels the bill had been read three times, since amendments do not trigger three new readings of the legislation. But, two state lawmakers who on Tuesday testified felt the procedure was rushed.

State Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) was the first witness called to testify on Tuesday and spent an hour answering questions.

The state asked Rep. Driehaus if the bill has language saying a state-appointed Youngstown Schools CEO would convene with local stakeholders within 30 days of taking over. She confirmed that it did.

Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber president Tom Humphries was also questioned on how the Youngstown Plan was developed with regards to the CEO concept and changing the oversight commission.

There are more than six witnesses who could be called to testify, and the hearing was not finished on Tuesday. It is hoped that the judge will make a decision by October 15, which is when House Bill 70 is supposed to start by establishing an academic distress commission..

In August, the Youngstown City School District Board of Education, along with Ohio Education Association, the Youngstown Education Association, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees sued the state of Ohio over H.B. 70. The group claimed 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 Ohio Senate passed the bill into law June 24, which allowed the state to disband the academic distress commission that was overseeing the district.

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 Ohio House of Representatives of unfairly taking power away from voters by appointing an un-elected CEO over the district.

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