Judge allows Youngstown schools state-takeover bill to stand

Youngstown City Schools bus

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown City School Board President Brenda Kimble expressed her displeasure just minutes after Franklin County Court Judge Jenifer French ruled that the board cannot pause the state’s takeover of the school district.

“,,, This couldn’t be about kids,” Kimble said on Tuesday. “For Jenifer French to deny us this injunction for a stay to put this on hold until after the case was over seems to me that she’s part of the plan and not part of the solution.”

The ruling means that House Bill 70, passed into law on June 24, will stand for now. The bill gave state lawmakers the power to name a CEO with control over the Youngstown City Schools.

The court is currently deciding the legality of House Bill 70, otherwise called the Youngstown Plan.

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, attorneys for the Youngstown City School District filed a list of witnesses and exhibits they will utilize during their legal battle with the state of Ohio over who will run district, and the state filed a motion to dismiss the case entirely.

The state said the complaint “fails to state a claim under which relief can be given,” according to court documents. In the filing, the state contends that H.B.70 was passed and signed into law using legal and constitutional processes, and that the Youngstown City School District’s complaint is, “little more than a thinly disguised effort to re-argue the policy merits of H.B. 70, a question for the General Assembly, not this court.”

Kimble is not the only one with concerns about the bill, however.

“One of the biggest concerns is we’re going to lose our voice in our district. We’re not going to be able to have that outlet when we have an issue or we need to talk to somebody about something that’s going on in the district. That’s not going to be available to us,” said parent Tina Cvetkovich.

On Thursday, House Bill 70 will become law, and within 30 days, a new academic distress commission will be put in place. The commission will include three appointees from State Superintendent Richard Ross, one from Youngstown Mayor John McNally, and another, a teacher, chosen by Brenda Kimble.

Sen. Joe Schiavoni, an outspoken opponent of the bill, said a new CEO should be in place by the beginning of 2016.

Kimble said she is having difficulty deciding on her appointment into the academic distress commission, following the Tuesday’s ruling.

“It is soon, and so, we have to make some decisions, and I’ve, of course I’ve been thinking about that all along, you know. I don’t have anybody in mind, honestly. The teachers I’d like to see set there do not want to be a part of it,” she said.

Along with its many opponents, House Bill 70 does have widespread support among other organizations. One supporter, StudentsFirst State Director Greg Harris, said he expects the plan to turn around the failing school district.

“I applaud today’s decision to allow new strategies to proceed in Youngstown that will help reverse the fate of one of the state’s lowest performing school districts,” he said. “I urge the community to look forward, not backward, in working to ensure the implementation of a Youngstown Plan that truly transforms the fate of thousands of kids who deserve access to better schools.

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