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Lorain City Schools CEO Finalists Will Field Questions In Online Forum

The three finalists for CEO of state-controlled Lorain City Schools will have an opportunity to differentiate themselves from the other candidates Tuesday night. They will convene for a public forum over Zoom and answer pre-written questions from a committee of community members.

In late May, the state-appointed Academic Distress Commission and the elected school board selected the CEO finalists after conducting interviews with six candidates. The three finalists are Jeff Graham, the last Lorain schools superintendent before the state takeover in 2017 and current superintendent for Canton City Schools, James Grubbs Jr., superintendent of Galion City Schools and Tracy Reed, Chief Academic Officer of Fort Wayne Community Schools in Indiana. Reed started her education career as a teacher in Cleveland. 

The forum to be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. will be recorded and archived on the Lorain City Schools website.

Lorain parent Barbie Washington, a member of the community group “It takes a Village,” will join the online public forum to ask questions on behalf of parents in the community.

She has been critical of the state takeover of Lorain City Schools in large part because of the district's first CEO David Hardy Jr., who she said alienated parents like her and did not meet with the school board. Hardy was unanimously voted out of his position by the Academic Distress Commission in late 2019. “I think it's really important for the CEO to engage with the community, with parents, with educators and seek our input,” said Washington, “and just really try to help and not harm.”

Washington said in addition to being more inclusive of the community, the next CEO should be focused on maintaining transparency, ensuring good leadership at each school, and coming up with a plan to educate students next fall amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

“Really using science and health department recommendations,” said Washington, “but really involving the educators that are actually going to be in the classrooms... the support staff that will be face-to-face with kids.”

Washington's first question to the CEO finalists will be, ‘Knowing House Bill 70 is flawed and it allows the CEOs to have absolute power, how will your philosophy influence your approach and how will you collaborate with parents, teachers and the school board?’

House Bill 70 was the 2015 law that put in place a process for state takeovers of failing school districts. Youngstown, East Cleveland and Lorain are the three districts currently under state control.

On Wednesday, the Academic Distress Commission and the school board will announce their selection for CEO, who will relieve interim CEO Greg Ring.

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