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Group Speaks Out Against State School Takeovers

A photo of an empty desk and chairs in a classroom
Academic distress commissions could be replaced with community learning centers for struggling local school districts, if state lawmakers pass a bill that allows the change.

Dozens of people lined up to voice their opposition to state takeovers of local school districts. The so-called Academic Distress Commission has been under fire for years, and the Senate is considering legislation that could repeal and replace it.

Teachers, administrators and parents stood before the Senate Education Committee to support abolishing academic distress commissions and replacing them with community learning centers.

The first state takeover was in 2015 in Youngstown.

Larry Ellis, president of the Youngstown Education Association, says the takeover diverted resources from programs that were working.

“Coaching and mentoring programs that were there to help students in the classroom were eliminated and made into administrative positions," he said.

A few people testified in support of academic distress commissions, including Youngstown City Schools outgoing CEO, Krish Mohip, who says the district is shackled by former leadership who wants to keep the status quo.

The new plan, HB154, would help failing schools through what’s called the community learning centers model. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Two other bills are circulating in the Statehouse to change the takeover process.

Through the current process, the state appoints a CEO to lead an academic distress commission when a school district receives an “F” grade on their 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 and 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.