Youngstown Schools Academic Distress Commission hit with third r - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Youngstown Schools Academic Distress Commission hit with third resignation

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

The hits keep coming for the embattled Youngstown City Schools Academic Distress Commission. 

On Wednesday, a third Academic Distress Commission member turned in her resignation to Yougnstown City Hall. 

Dr. Barbara Brothers was appointed to the commission in November 2015 by then mayor John McNally. 

Dr. Brothers is a retired professor from Youngstown State University and former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and boasted a career as an educator for over 40 years.

She has also served in board positions at the Youngstown Symphony, YWCA and Citizens League of Youngstown.

In a conversation Wednesday afternoon, Brothers told 21 News that she is saddened by the state of affairs in the district. 

"In spite of our best efforts, it's clear we were at a dead end," said Dr. Brothers. "It was impossible for things to move forward by Krish or for the board to hold him responsible since certain leaders in the community and the teachers were not cooperative."

Brothers said that the point of the Academic Distress Commission was to put a CEO in place in the district and then measure their effectiveness at getting things done that needed to be done. 

However, Brothers admitted that she was not a fan of House Bill 70, the very bill that created the commission and allowed a CEO to be installed in the district. But she said that once it was passed by lawmakers the only way forward was to find someone to help the schools. 

Dr. Brothers also said that CEO Krish Mohip was attempting to institute programs that the schools needed, such as wraparound services, but kept getting opposition only because of his title. 

Brothers went on to say the Commission hasn't been able to accurately measure Mohip's performance in light of the obstacles that some in the community put in front of him by constant opposition. 

That opposition, Dr. Brothers said, has come not only from the Board of Education, but the teachers, and other community leaders as well. 

Brothers told 21 News that it was clear from the beginning that the members of the commission's first goal was to make effective changes and keep the system public, not turn it into a charter school or voucher system or anything like that, despite what some in the community have been saying. 

Mayor Tito Brown will now be tasked with appointing a replacement for Dr. Brothers. 

Dr. Brothers becomes the third member in less than a week to hand in her resignation. 

Chairman Brian Benyo announced Friday that he was stepping down from the commission.

Benyo, a Mahoning County resident, is president of Brilex Industries and a founding member of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, cited professional obligations and time restraints for his resignation.

In his letter to the State Superintendent of Schools, Paolo DeMaria, Benyo noted the need to "devote more time to the professional obligations associated with the businesses" he co-owns and manages, "as well as personal interests and time away from the Youngstown area."

He said these demands have limited his ability to consistently engage in the work associated with the ADC at the level needed. Because of that, he decided to step down.

Just hours later that same day, the Vice Chair of the Commission, Jennifer Roller turned in a letter announcing she too would be leaving. 

Roller did not cite specific reasons for her departure, merely stating in a letter to the State Superintendent of Schools, Paolo DeMaria, that she is "unable to continue serving on the Commission." 

Until the vacancies on the Distress Commission can be filled, Deputy Superintendent John Richard has the responsibility of supporting the work of the academic distress commission. 

Richard will join the two remaining commission members- Nick Santucci and Vince Shivers. 

They are scheduled to have their first meeting Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Choffin Career and Technical Center. 

In addition to departures from the Distress Commission in the past week, it was revealed Tuesday that CEO Krish Mohip may soon be leaving the district as well. 

Krish Mohip is one of two finalists out of more than 1,000 people who applied for a superintendents position for the Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, Colorado. The Colorado community will interview Mohip and the other finalist this Thursday and Friday.

In a statement CEO Mohip said:  "I'm a father of three young children.  Last November, after a third episode of vandalism at my home, I decided I wouldn't be comfortable bringing my family to live with me here in Youngstown.  That's when I began considering other employment."

Mohip signed on as the state's first school CEO in June of 2016 after the legislature passed House Bill 70 to restructure the school district.

Since then he's battled consistently with the school board which has challenged him every step of the way.

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