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New education agency moves forward after judge dissolves order to stop Ohio K-12 overhaul

The Broad Street entrance of the Ohio Department of Education building in downtown Columbus. There are no signs showing the transition to the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce so far, four days after a judge dissolved the order blocking the K-12 overhaul from moving forward.
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
The Broad Street entrance of the Ohio Department of Education building in downtown Columbus. There are no signs showing the transition to the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce so far, four days after a judge dissolved the order blocking the K-12 overhaul from moving forward.

The seven progressive-leaning elected state school board members who sued over the Republican-backed overhaul of K-12 education are considering their next move. A judge allowed that transition to go into effect Friday, and an interim head of the new agency has been appointed.

The decision dissolved a temporary order won by the school board members last month. The state’s attorneys said the Department of Education died on October 2, as the transition put into law by the state budget went into effect, and the Department of Education and Workforce was created. But the state determined that academic policy powers held by the state school board were not going to be transferred into it while the order was in place, and the cabinet level head of the new agency would not be named.

Gov. Mike DeWine had said earlier this month that order also put on hold the work to find the director and deputy director for the Department of Education and Workforce.

“We were actively in the process of finding those people when we got the court order. We followed the court order," he said in a press conference just hours before the elimination of the Ohio Department of Education.

At that press conference, DeWine also said the new Department of Education and Workforce would take over daily business duties of dealing with the state's more than 600 school districts, such as distributing state funds and processing applications for the EdChoice voucher program. The state budget also expanded that private school voucher program to all Ohio families. Students had to be enrolled in private schools by Oct. 14 to be eligible for the full scholarship.

DeWine announced he’s appointing Jessica Voltolini as interim director of the department while the search is resumed. Voltolini had been the chief of staff at the Ohio Department of Education. The director must be approved by the Senate.

The seven board members have 14 days from the decision to object, and haven't announced their next step.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.