Ruling on Coitsville education in dispute

State to appeal division of Youngstown district



The Ohio State Board of Education will appeal a Franklin County Common Pleas Court ruling that would allow Coitsville Township to break away from the Youngstown City School District.

A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Education said the board has voted to challenge the May 21 ruling by Judge Patrick Sheeran that overturned the board’s February 2009 denial of the request by the Concerned Citizens for Quality Education to divide Coitsville Township between the Hubbard and Lowellville school districts.

The appeal will go to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

It was the fourth time since the early 1970s that the group sought to separate from the Youngstown school system.

The Youngstown Board of Education has opposed those requests, and Anthony Catale, board president, said Youngstown would appeal the most recent case if the state board did not.

The Concerned Citizens group said the switch would benefit the 63 school-age children living in the township by allowing them to attend either Hubbard or Lowellville schools, both of which are rated as academically excellent by the state. Youngstown was in academic watch when the request was filed in 2008 but has since dropped into academic emergency.

“Ultimately, this court must do what is best for all the students involved,” Judge Sheeran wrote in his opinion.

The court downplayed the economic impact that the loss of about one-quarter of the Youngstown school district would mean to the city schools and pointed out that 55 of the Coitsville students already are attending Hubbard, Lowellville or Struthers schools through open enrollment.

Evidence showed only eight were still attending Youngstown schools, and nowhere in the state’s list of reasons for denying the property transfer did it show that Youngstown can provide a superior or even an equal educational experience, the judge said.

Youngstown has said it would lose $145,000 in annual state-foundation funds for students and $607,000 in annual real-estate taxes received from Coitsville if the township goes to Hubbard and Lowellville.

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