Ohio Department of Education and Workforce being created despite court order
The Ohio Department of Education will end at midnight Tuesday as the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce is created.
Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor John Husted spoke during a late afternoon news briefing about the upcoming change and the controversy surrounding it.
As the move to the new department drew near, seven members of the existing State Board of Education filed a lawsuit against Governor DeWine to stop the transition.
According to an AP report, the board members allege that a Republican-backed overhaul of how the state oversees education violates the Ohio constitution. The AP report said the oversight of Ohio's education department would more to a director appointed by the governor instead of the superintendent elected by the State Board of Education.
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Karen Phipps placed a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Governor DeWine and the State of Ohio on September 21.
According to Governor DeWine, the order prohibits him and the State of Ohio from creating the Department of Education and Workforce, appointing the new head of the department and transferring powers from the State Board of Education to the new department.
Governor DeWine said he and the state are following the court order after Monday's hearing yielded no change to it.
Even with the TRO in place, DeWine said the Department of Education will still go away because of the law passed by the Ohio General Assembly. Senate Bill 1 was part of the new state budget that was signed by DeWine.
"That old department dies at midnight," Governor DeWine said.
He noted that the end of the Ohio Department of Education could lead to potential chaos, saying that questions would arise about who would send checks to public schools and make determinations about eligibility for school choice.
"I cannot let this situation fester, I can not let this chaos which will start tomorrow actually happen. I believe I have an obligation to ensure that we provide a quality public education system that meets the needs of Ohio students so they can learn, study and be prepared for fulfilling careers and future success as adults," Governor DeWine said.
According to DeWine, the new Department of Education and Workforce will exist as of midnight on October 3 by rule of law and will have money going to it by reason of the budget that was passed by the General Assembly.
DeWine said he will not appoint a head of the new department and will not engage in the transferring of any powers from the State Board to the new department as long as the court order is in place.
"It is important that there be a department, that checks go out, that support be given to our teachers and it's important for our school children in the State of Ohio," DeWine said.
During the Q&A portion of the news briefing, questions arose about who would be leading the new department and if employees would be paid.
DeWine said Dr. J. Christopher Woolard will be the acting superintendent, noting that his authority comes from the State Board. He'll begin working Tuesday.
"Anybody that shows up I think I can speak as governor and I will go to legislature if there's a legal problem about them getting paid. We'll be there to do what we need to do to make sure they get paid," DeWine said.
21 News reached out to the Ohio Education Association, who said they couldn't provide an immediate comment following the briefing.