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Problems In Lorain Put Spotlight On School Takeover Issues

school lockers

The Lorain City School Board of Education and the district's state-appointed CEO, David Hardy, are locked in a legal battle. State lawmakers say this emphasizes the need for the legislature to overhaul academic distress commissions.

The board of education says the restraining order filed against Hardy is over the need for transparency related to financial decisions made by the academic distress commission.

State Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst), who represents Lorain, says this is why the state needs to move away from the current district takeover model.

"I find it egregious that a bureaucratic system from Columbus should be dictating how the community educates its citizens," says Miller.

The Ohio House passed Miller’s bill, HB154, that repeals academic distress commissions and replaces them with a community-based model.

The language of that measure was inserted into a draft of the state budget but was later removed by the Ohio Senate. A compromise among the House and Senate resulted in a one-year moratorium of any new academic distress commissions.

Senate leadership and Gov. Mike DeWine have indicated they want to make changes to the current system, instead of an all-out repeal.

An academic distress commission takes control of a school district when it receives an “F” grade on a report card three years in a row.

According to the Ohio Department of Education, Dayton City Schools received its second-consecutive “F” grade in 2018.

The following districts received their first overall “F” in 2018:

  • Ashtabula City Schools
  • Canton City Schools
  • Columbus City Schools
  • Euclid City Schools
  • Lima City Schools
  • Mansfield City Schools
  • North College Hill City Schools
  • Painesville City Schools
  • Toledo City Schools
Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.