YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown Plan took away nearly all power from the elected board of education and put it in the hands of an appointed CEO. Losing voting rights seems like a natural platform for the NAACP but the civil rights organization’s response has been complicated.
The NAACP has spoken against the Youngstown Board of Education for years. The Youngstown Plan caught the civil rights group off guard.
“I was worried, really, I was,” said Youngstown NAACP President George Freeman, Jr.
He thought giving one person total control would destroy the district. After meeting with CEO Krish Mohip, however, the NAACP started evaluating his progress.
“Some of the things he wanted to do here in Youngstown is the same things that we had been trying to get the board to do before we got an Academic Distress Commission, before we got a CEO,” Freeman said.
That put the NAACP in a strange place. A civil rights organization could be seen as speaking in favor of taking away an entire city’s voting rights.
“Very odd, very odd position. The NAACP has a resolution that they are opposed to state takeover. So we had to make our statement that we are opposed to state takeover,” Freeman said.
That statement came with a huge “however” tacked on the end.
“Here in Youngstown, we had 20 years of failure using these elected boards of education,” Freeman said.
He said the objectives of the NAACP and the board of education are different.
“Our main objective is academic achievement. That’s our objective. I’m not sure what their main objective is.”
School Board President Brenda Kimble said she’s not worried about the NAACP but she is worried about the district.
“Hopefully, it will turn around but to me, it doesn’t look good for the community, for voters’ rights, or for taxpayers’ dollars.”
The school board held a community meeting Tuesday evening. Kimble said the purpose is to inform the community of the state of the city school district.
Freeman said he won’t officially attend or support the board’s community meeting on Tuesday or any future actions of the board.