New leader of Youngstown distress panel knows urban schools


The newly appointed chairman of Youngstown Schools’ Academic Distress Commission believes the school district is working to improve but believes a greater sense of urgency is needed.

Richard Ross, state superintendent of public instruction, appointed Joffrey Jones as chairman of the distcit’s ADC last month, replacing Adrienne O’Neill who stepped down for health reasons.

“There needs to be a greater sense of urgency,” said Jones, who retired in 2012 after 10 years as superintendent of Euclid City Schools. “I think the superintendent with the actions he’s put into place is trying very hard. There are some things that have been slow to develop in Youngstown.”

He listed inclusion of special-education students in regular education classrooms, which happened in many districts about six years ago but is happening for the first time in Youngstown in the 2014-15 school year, as an example.

Research has shown that special-education students in self-contained classrooms don’t achieve at as high a level as those in classrooms with regular-education students, he said.

Jones was approached by John Richard, state assistant superintendent, and Clairie Huff-Franklin, director of academic distress commissions and education reform, about filling the post.

“I deliberated about it for awhile,” he said. “I knew it was a big responsibility, but it’s also an honor, a way to give back.”

John Charleton, an Ohio Department of Education spokesman, said in an email that Jones demonstrated enthusiasm and passion for helping Youngstown students.

“His background as a successful 10-year superintendent of a first-ring suburb [Euclid city] of Cleveland offers hope that he will provide consistent leadership, understanding the challenges of an urban district,” Charleton said. “His calm but determined demeanor is a good fit for Youngstown.”

Read more about Youngstown schools' newest leader in Sunday's Vindicator or on

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