Youngstown City School Board to be replaced, president pushes for lawsuit
The Ohio Department of Education released state report cards for districts Thursday.
Youngstown City School District received an overall F grade from the state.
This is the 4th year in a row the school district has received an overall F which means under House Bill 70; all school board members will be replaced.
"I feel like we are being targeted," said Youngstown School Board President Brenda Kimble. "It is only targeting urban schools, and we can not let this go on."
School board member Dario Hunter echoed a similar concern.
"It absolutely must be challenged, and it must be challenged by all of us," said Hunter. "Because this is an infringement upon the right to vote and our democratic right as citizens. It cannot be allowed to pass."
He said House Bill 70 unfairly targets minority school districts like Youngstown.
"They are infringing upon the voting rights of minority voters in this district," said Hunter.
Both Hunter and Kimble agreed they want to pursue legal action against the state.
"Now your voter's rights have been taken away from you," said Kimble. "You don't have the right to choose who governs over your taxpayer's dollars."
House Bill 70 mandates that the state superintendent must convene a nominating panel within 30 days if a system under the control of an Academic Distress Committee doesn't receive a "C" grade or higher after four years.
The panel is then to nominate ten possible candidates for appointment to the board.
Mayor Jamael Tito Brown will then select the members.
Currently, there are seven school board members.
The school board had previously taken legal action against the state in hopes of stopping the takeovers, to begin with, in 2015.
A judge ruled against that lawsuit.
House Bill 70 established state takeovers of underperforming school districts and mandates an Academic Distress Commission and the appointment of a school district CEO selected by the state.
Justin Jennings was named CEO of the Youngstown City School District this year following Krish Mohip's tenure at the district that began in 2016.
Jennings emphasized his focus remains on the students.
"Our focus is always on teaching and learning, and we are putting a heavy emphasis on literacy," stated Jennings.
He said replacing the school board under mandates from House Bill 70 is something that does not concern the students.
"This doesn't equate to anything else, but we just need to make sure we improve," said the CEO.
House Bill 154 is going into its third hearing on Tuesday, September 17, 2019.
This bill would dissolve and replace Academic Distress Commissions.
But as of now, House Bill 70 is still the law and will require an overhaul of the school board members to be completed by January.