Dick Ross, ODE, and the State, Sued Over Youngstown Secret Privatization Plan

From the Press release

The Ohio Education Association (OEA) along with the Youngstown City School District Board of Education, the Youngstown Education Association - an affiliate of the OEA, Ohio Council 8 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and Jane Haggerty, a taxpayer and Youngstown voter, filed a lawsuit in Franklin County to stop the scheduled state takeover of Youngstown City Schools.

The suit against the State of Ohio, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross, and the Ohio Department of Education, claims the law that sets up a state takeover was rushed through the Ohio legislature without receiving three readings in each chamber, as required by the Ohio Constitution and in a manner that prevented thorough debate and consideration of the law, including input from educators and local citizens. The suit also claims the law violates the right of local citizens to have elected representatives oversee their school districts.

“Educators want to be able to advocate for their students,” said OEA president Becky Higgins. “The plan to turn over decision-making authority in the Youngstown schools to single person – a CEO – would effectively silence the voices of educators. That’s unacceptable. Educators are committed to improving the Youngstown schools and they need to be heard.”

The plaintiffs asked the judge for a preliminary injunction to block the establishment of a new “Academic Distress Commission” that would name a CEO to run the schools until report card ratings improve. The appointed CEO would have the authority to replace administrators, set class sizes, alter existing contracts and set compensation.

The constitution is pretty clear

Article VI §3 states that:

...each school district embraced wholly or in part within any city shall have the power by referendum vote to determine for itself the number of members and the organization of the district board of education, and provision shall be made by law for the exercise of the power by such school districts. The constitution recognizes that the board of education is in charge of its district.

That does seem to preclude having a non elected CEO run things.

The plans troubles don't end there. There are also reports that the crafting of the plan may have broken Ohio's sunshine laws

Two state lawmakers charge that the Youngstown City Schools Business Cabinet was a public body and that its behind-closed-doors meetings violated the Sunshine Law.

The cabinet devised the Youngstown Plan, the legislation that allows a chief executive officer to be appointed to manage and operate the city school district.

“These meetings were meetings about public education policy,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th. “Taxpayer dollars were affected with it, and it was a secret.”

The meetings purposely excluded parents and teachers, she said.

Lepore-Hagan and Rep. Teresa Fedor of Toledo, D-45th, want Richard Ross, state superintendent of public instruction, to resign.

ODE and the State are going to have an uphill fight over this one.