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Smith, Fedor push for moratorium on controversial state takeovers of local schools

Introduce bill to prevent new academic distress commissions
April 27, 2018
Democratic Newsroom

State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today introduced legislation to block the state from taking over additional local school districts and privatizing local school boards. The proposed moratorium follows the controversial state takeovers of Youngstown City Schools and Lorain City Schools, where the heavy-handed approach has failed to produce any meaningful improvement or results.

“Ohio needs to invest in our kids and families, not wrestle control away from democratically elected leaders,” said Rep. Smith. “Local leaders have known what is best for their kids for a long time. It is state government that needs to change its approach.”

Under the proposed moratorium, state report card grades given prior to or under the moratorium would not ultimately affect a school’s chance for state takeover and school board privatization in the future. The ban on state takeovers, or so-called “academic distress commissions,” would last three years, through 2021.

“The takeovers in Youngstown and Lorain have had atrocious results but there are models out there that work,” said Rep. Fedor. “This moratorium will give us time to find the ways that will actually improve schools for our students and communities.”

Following the passage of amended House Bill 70 in the 131st General Assembly, the structure of academic distress commissions was changed to fast track a state takeover of local school districts when they receive three consecutive failing state report card grades. Under the new law, the schools are put under a state-run academic distress commission instead of a publicly elected board and have a CEO installed to run the school.

The lawmakers believe their ban would give lawmakers more time to find a real solution rather trapping more districts and students in another failing model for public education.