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Cleveland schools are set to join Youngstown under a special state watch
Ohio law sets up commissions to help manage chronically under-performing schools

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
In The Region:
UPDATE: Cleveland and the state say the Cleveland Transformation plan may exempt it from the academic distress commission. WKSU will update this story as more information is provided.

Schools in Cleveland and Lorain are about to join Youngstown in falling under what’s called a state academic distress commission. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on why, and how that works.
SCHULTZE: Academic distress in Cleveland, Youngstown

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The state report cards are now official. And that means it’s also official that the Cleveland and Lorain school district s will come under heightened state scrutiny. That’s because each is in academic emergency – the equivalent of an F -- and has fallen short of federal standards for four straight years.

So, under state law, each gets a five-member “academic distress commission,” with three members appointed by the state and two by the local school board. They’ll develop plans to improve academics, can reassign administrators and must sign off on budgets.

Adrienne O’Neill heads the academic think-tank in Canton called the Stark Education Partnership. She also chairs the commission in the only district in the state now under such a watch, Youngstown, and says the goal is not to take away local control.

“The underlying goal in terms of the academic distress commission should be to create a situation where the school district can carry on in the same manner by itself. So whatever it is that’d done in Youngstown, my hope is that it becomes a part of the usual functioning of the district.”

To be removed from the state’s watch, a district must reach the equivalent of a C for two of three academic years. Right now, Youngstown has a D. But O’Neill says, given its progress, the district could be done with the oversight in three years. Meanwhile, the timeline for Cleveland and Lorain is not yet clear.
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