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Judge temporarily blocks Republican-backed overhaul of Ohio's education system

Members of the State Board of Education sit at tables during a meeting.
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
The Ohio State Board of Education passes a resolution opposing a proposal to transfer much of the board's authority to the governor in April 2023. The 11 elected members and eight appointed members approved the resolution 13-6.

A county judge put a massive Republican-backed overhaul of Ohio’s K-12 education system on hold after issuing a temporary restraining order Thursday, blocking its implementation.

The order comes just days after seven Ohio State Board of Education members filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

The lawsuit says the overhaul, which would significantly shift oversight and decision-making powers in issues like academic standards and school curriculum away from the board and to the governor, violates the constitution.

Franklin County Judge Karen Held Phipps' order will hold until Oct. 2, when the law creating the overhaul was set to go into effect. A hearing is scheduled that day to decide whether the law will be blocked indefinitely while the case continues through the courts.

“We are pleased that the judge has maintained the status quo of public education in Ohio while the case proceeds,” Maddy Gitomer, a lawyer representing the board members through Democracy Forward, a national legal services nonprofit, said in a statement.

“We will remain steadfast in our legal defense of people and communities in Ohio and determined in our effort to declare unconstitutional this brazen power grab by Governor DeWine and the Ohio legislature,” Gitomer said.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted told The Associated Press that the lawsuit is “frivolous” and that the seven school board members are simply transferring the chaos they created within the state board to the new process that’s trying to fix their mistakes and hold the education system more accountable.

The education overhaul has been controversial since it was first introduced in the Legislature in 2022, before being added to the state budget earlier this year.

Supporters, including DeWine, have praised it for bringing order to what they see as a disorganized system that hasn’t properly addressed education struggles in Ohio.

But it’s also received significant backlash from teachers’ groups who say the shift brings less order and more partisanship to education in the state.

The Associated Press