By Denise Dick
An appeals court has ruled that Coitsville can’t break away from the city school district.
The recent ruling from the 10th District Court of Appeals is the latest in a long-running attempt by the group, Concerned Citizens for Quality Education to leave the Youngstown district, with the area north of U.S. Route 422 transferred to the Hubbard school district and the portion south of Route 422 transferred to the Lowellville district.
There’s no word on whether Concerned Citizens for Quality Education will continue to pursue the case.
Faith Adsit, who leads the group, said it would issue a statement in response to the ruling in the coming days.
Lock P. Beachum Sr., Youngstown school board president, said the decision is good news for the school district.
“I think it should be completely settled now,” he said. “I don’t know whether [the citizens group] will appeal.”
The citizens group sought the transfer, contending it would benefit the 63 school-age children living in the township by allowing them to attend either Hubbard or Lowellville schools, both of which were rated excellent by the state. Youngstown was in academic watch when the request was filed in 2008 but has since dropped into academic emergency.
Many of those students attended those two school districts using open enrollment.
It was the fourth time since the early 1970s that the group sought to separate from the Youngstown school system.
The Youngstown district argued against the transfer, and in 2009, the state school board denied the transfers.
The citizens’ group appealed that decision in Franklin County Common Pleas Court where a judge reversed the state board’s decision and allowed the transfer.
The Youngstown board and Ohio Department of Education appealed that decision.
The appeals court, with one judge dissenting, found that the trial court abused it discretion by rejecting the state board’s consideration of factors weighing against the proposed transfers, “including racial isolation and financial harm to the Youngstown district,” the ruling says.
At the time, the city school district expected to lose about $145,000 annually if the transfers were approved, less than 1 percent of its total annual budget.
Regarding the racial isolation argument, testimony “established that the percentage of minority students in the Youngstown district would increase from 80.9 percent to 81.6 percent were the transfers approved, but the trial court found that increase insignificant,” the ruling says.
It says that in contrast to Youngstown’s high percentage of minority students, the Hubbard and Lowellville school districts have minority student populations of 7 percent and 1 percent, respectively. “As a whole, the Coitsville territory has a 13 percent minority student population,” it says.
The trial court said there was no evidence that the Coitsville students contribute to racial diversity in the Youngstown district. But the appeals court concluded that the trial court abused its discretion by disregarding the evidence of fiscal harm to the Youngstown district and racial-isolation implications as a result of the proposed transfers.