Governor talks of changing Youngstown schools to charter system

SEE ALSO: City school district should ask state to help in cutting budget

By Denise Dick


Gov. John Kasich wants to shut down the city schools and replace them with a charter school, says Michele Lepore-Hagan, state representative-elect.

Lepore-Hagan’s husband, state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, tweeted the comment Wednesday morning. Hagan will leave his seat at year’s end because of term limits.

Lepore-Hagan was elected to the seat earlier this month. She confirmed Kasich’s comments.

Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesman, said little about the purported conversation.

“He [Hagan] spends an unusual amount of time on Twitter,” Nichols said in an email. “We don’t comment on the governor’s private discussions with people, except to say that he takes the Youngstown schools situation very seriously and wants to see them get fixed.”

Lepore-Hagan said the conversation with Kasich occurred this week at orientation in Columbus for incoming representatives.

“I told him that I represent the people who pay for the Youngstown City Schools and it’s my obligation to get involved and try to help save our city schools,” she said. “He said that the Youngstown City Schools are in such a mess that he would like to shut them down and replace them with a great charter school.”

Connie Hathorn, city schools superintendent, said he is unaware of plans for district schools to be converted into a charter system.

Kasich said he was putting together a group of people to study the issue and that group would make recommendations, Lepore-Hagan said.

“I was shocked to hear that and shocked at his lack of confidence in the city schools,” Lepore-Hagan said. “We disagree on what to do with public schools. I believe if you give the students the right resources, they will excel.”

In September, Kasich told The Vindicator he had enlisted the help of state Rep. Sean O’Brien of Bazetta, D-63rd, and Thomas Humphries, president and chief executive officer of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, to talk with business leaders and develop recommendations for improving the district. The governor told the newspaper the state would do whatever it could to implement a plan.

“If it’s going to reform these schools, we’ll do anything we can to help and support it and get it through” the state Legislature, Kasich said at that time.

Lepore-Hagan said she told Kasich that she wants to be on that committee. As the person elected to represent voters in the school district, she said she believes it’s her obligation.

Her husband, who was elected earlier this month to the Ohio Board of Education, should be included too, Lepore-Hagan said.

Both of her parents taught in the city schools, and it’s something she’s passionate about, she said.

“I am going to be involved.” Lepore-Hagan said. “It’s my obligation. The people who elected me should expect me to be involved.”

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