Judge rules against Youngstown School Board's 2-year-old lawsuit - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Judge rules against Youngstown School Board's 2-year-old lawsuit to stop CEO

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A Franklin County judge has ruled against a two-year-old lawsuit filed by the Youngstown City School Board in order to stop the introduction of a CEO into the district. 

In a judgment entry issued Wednesday, Judge Jenifer French ruled that the  City School Board failed to show that they would be irreparably harmed if a CEO were to be implemented into the school district. 

Judge French ruled that the Board's lawsuit, which was filed in 2015, just weeks after the controversial House Bill 70, was signed into law by Governor John Kasich, did not supply enough proof for her to grant an injunction against the bill. Had it gone through, the injunction would have stopped the CEO from working in the district. 

In arguing for the injunction, school board attorneys said that the failure of lawmakers to give anyone an opportunity to argue the policy merits of H.B. 70 before it was enacted into law is at the heart of their lawsuit.

However, Judge French states in the ruling that H.B. 70 received three full readings from both the House and the Senate before being passed and signed into law. 

However, the contentious part of the signing remains in the fact that the City school board says that the Amendment, frequently referred to as the Youngstown Amendment, was added to the bill the day of the last reading. 

Attorneys for the school board argued that the amendment "vitally changed" the bill, and therefore it should have received an additional three readings. 

But in the judgment, Judge French says that in order for a bill to be "vitally altered" the purpose of the entire bill must be changed. In the case of  H.B. 70, the legislation maintained a clear purpose of bettering education, according to Judge French. 

While the judgment admits that the amendment changed the way in which the bill addressed educational performance standards- it still dealt with the same issue and therefore was not vitally altered. 

Judge French's judgement does go so far as to state that In this case, there was ample evidence demonstrating that there was a conscious effort on the part of several 'stakeholders' to meet and quietly formulate a 'plan' to address the failing school district and that at least some of these ideas were contained within Am. Sub. HB 70. While these closed-door meetings may function to undermine the public's confidence in this portion of the legislative process, it is not unconstitutional. 

In addition to questioning the legislative process that produced H.B. 70, the school argued that the law takes away the constitutional right of voters in the school district to determine the number of members and organization of the district's board of education.

 Judge French asserts that while the right to vote is Constitutionally protected, there are no such things as the right to vote for a school board. 

According to the judgment, people have the right to vote in the elections before them, however, there is no protected right to vote for an administrative body, such as a school bard, just because other cities have them. 

Lastly, Judge French said that the City School Board failed to show that it would be irreparably harmed if a CEO took over. Instead, the ruling says that the judge was compelled by the arguments of the state. 

Attorneys for the state argued that the district was in dire need of change since only one percent of graduating students were prepared for college. 

Judge French further stated in the ruling that while the public has an interest in the right to vote, it also has an interest in "having schools that are effective and properly educating students."

CEO Krish Mohip was appointed in June of 2016 because the courts refused to grant an injunction that would allow a reprieve until the Board's lawsuit could be ruled on. 

The judge's ruling is appealable, however, it is unknown at this time if the Board of Education plans to continue the legal battle and appeal the ruling. 

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