By HAROLD GWIN
The state Academic Distress Commission appointed to develop an academic- recovery plan for the Youngstown city schools has advised Youngstown school officials not to take action on any academic plans without first getting commission approval.
“Right now, we should continue on the status quo,” said Debra Mettee, commission chairman, suggesting that to allow the school district to begin making academic changes for next school year now might be unfair to staff and others if those plans conflict with the recovery plan being developed by the commission.
The commission is required to consult with school officials as it devises a plan to get Youngstown out of academic emergency, but the commission’s decisions are final.
Mettee said the directive applies to the school board’s search for a new superintendent to replace Wendy Webb, who announced last week that she is retiring as of Jan. 1.
The Youngstown school board met in special session Monday night to begin mapping out plans to search for Webb’s successor.
The Academic Distress Commission has a role to play in that process, Mettee said, noting that the commission has the express authority to fire or appoint a superintendent and other administrators if it deems such action necessary.
Anthony Catale, school board president, said the board is willing to work with the commission but intends to move ahead with developing a search process for the new superintendent and then present that plan to the commission for its approval.
Webb said she wasn’t surprised by the commission’s directive.
“That’s why we hadn’t done anything. I anticipated this,” she said, explaining why building assignments and other academic issues haven’t been finalized yet, though this is the time of year such decisions are normally made for the start of classes in the fall.
The commission is required to submit an academic-recovery plan to the state superintendent of public instruction by the end of June, and Mettee said the consultant hired by the commission to help draft that plan will present a preliminary version of that document showing its basic framework Monday.