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Incoming Youngstown City Schools CEO Discusses Improving the District

The incoming Youngstown Schools CEO says his priorities will be students and giving some control back to the elected school board.

The Academic Distress Commission appointed Justin Jennings to lead Youngstown's schools after Khris Mohip announced he will leave when his contract expires July 31st.

Jennings, a Michigan native, told the Youngstown Vindicator he read at a third grade level when he graduated high school. There are many reasons students aren't learning, he says, and as CEO he will not make excuses but rather try and address all the needs of the child.

“Sometimes you need to be a social worker. You have to be a parent but we have to make sure that our focus is always on teaching and learning even with those things,” Jennings says.  

He also wants to give some control back to the district's elected school board members.

“It is my job to make sure that I can help them see the decisions we are making and why we are making the decisions," he says. "At the end of the day I am always going to make a decision that is best for the scholars in Youngstown.”

He also wants to help get more parents are more involved in their child’s education.

“I don't expect a parent to teach their kids algebra at home,” he said. “We do expect them to hold them accountable for maybe that homework or maybe getting in and showing up for parent teacher conferences, math night. That is how we get parents to be more involved.”

A Purdue University graduate, Jennings spent 19 years as an educator, ranging from special education teacher to his current position as superintendent of Muskegon Public School District in Western Michigan.

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