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Community Leaders Call For Repeal Of School Takeovers

Group of opponents to Academic Distress Commissions gathers at the Ohio Statehouse.
Andy Chow
Group of opponents to Academic Distress Commissions gathers at the Ohio Statehouse.

People opposed to state takeovers of local school districts are making a last-minute push to get rid of academic distress commissions through the budget bill.

A coalition of teachers, school administrators, and community advocates are calling on Gov. Mike DeWine to intervene and play a role in the fight. 

Three school districts are under control of these commissions, Youngstown, Lorain, and East Cleveland. Critics say the takeover model doesn’t allow for enough collaboration in their communities.

Steve Cawthon, a member of Lorain’s Academic Distress Commission, says it’s just not working.

“Our schools should have a unique and impartial opportunity to allow their unique social and economic opportunities to shape the structures that will allow their districts to prosper,” says Cawthon.

Supporters of distress commissions have said it’s important for outsiders to come in and shake things up.

But Ron Shadd, member of the Youngstown City School Board, says there's been too much investment in administrative work, which takes money out of the classroom. 

“So when we’re here seeing all these people standing united against this one thing that started in Youngstown, we know that this is not good for education in Youngstown or anywhere in Ohio,” says Shadd.

A repeal and replace measure was added to the budget in the House but removed in the Senate. Both chambers are working out a final budget deal.

DeWine's office has noted that the academic distress commissions are still being discussed. The office added that DeWine has said in the past that he feels "we have a moral obligation to help children in failing schools."

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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.