Youngstown school board reappoints interim superintendent amid disagreement


By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The city school board approved a 12-month contract for the interim superintendent and a resolution voicing objection to the district paying the chief executive officer whose term begins today.

Although there was no name-calling, Tuesday’s meeting – the last before CEO Krish Mohip takes over – offered no shortage of heated discussions. Mohip, the district’s first CEO and a former Chicago Public Schools administrator, was appointed by the Youngstown City School District Academic Distress Commission, part of the Youngstown Plan legislation approved last summer.

The board reappointed Stephen Stohla, interim superintendent, through June 30, 2017, by a 4-3 vote.

Board President Brenda Kimble and members Michael Murphy, Ronald Shadd and Jerome Williams were in favor, with members Dario Hunter, Corrine Sanderson and Jackie Adair opposed.

Those opposed cited a lack of a performance evaluation of Stohla as the reason.

Sanderson said she was twice given incorrect forms when she inquired about the superintendent’s evaluation.

Murphy said Mohip told the board not to evaluate Stohla and that Mohip wants Stohla to be rehired.

Mohip, when he attended a board work session earlier this month, told the panel he would evaluate both the superintendent and the treasurer as part of his duties.

Adair wanted to table the motion for Stohla’s reappointment. If the CEO wants to give Stohla a new contract, let the CEO do it, she said.

Adair, Sanderson and Hunter voted in favor of tabling, with Kimble, Shadd, Williams and Murphy opposed.

Stohla’s current contract expires Thursday. It’s the second of two six-month contracts he had with the district when he earned $60,000 for each.

His reappointment runs through June 30, 2017, and he’ll earn $120,000.

The board voted 7-0, however, to approve a resolution objecting to paying the CEO.

The objection says the state should pay Mohip. Ohio Department of Education officials have said the CEO will be paid by the city school district and ODE will reimburse the district for the CEO’s salary and benefits.

The school board “believes that the chief executive officer must be paid by the Department of Education ... not by the district,” the resolution said.

It says the board “objects to any payment by the district” to the CEO, who is appointed by the academic distress commission.

“Because the CEO is an employee of the state of Ohio, district funds should not be part of it,” Kimble said.

According to an ODE spokeswoman last month, however, Mohip won’t be a state employee.

The verbal volleying started early in the meeting, after the Pledge of Allegiance, with a motion to approve Tuesday’s meeting agenda.

Hunter and Adair argued the last board meeting before the CEO starts failed to address any of the pressing issues facing the district.

Hunter listed creationism in the curriculum, bullying, problems in the district’s special-education department and lack of a staffing plan as important issues not included on the agenda.

“This agenda is a failure because this board is a failure,” Hunter said.

Shadd said those issues are being addressed. It’s being done in the board’s monthly work sessions and by board committees.

Hunter said he wouldn’t go on as his fellow members were anxious to attend Tuesday evening’s GED-recipient graduation in Canfield. School board meetings should continue until all business of what’s affecting students is completed, he said.

Shadd said the GED graduation is the business of the board. He said the board addresses problems by empowering school district personnel to do their jobs.

Adair agreed with Hunter.

“The issues that matter have not been talked about in committees,” she said. “They have not.”

At the board’s twice-monthly regular meetings, many members say they have nothing to report during board committee reports, she said.

Kimble then tried to bring the discussion to a close, calling for point of order.

“Madam president, you don’t have the authority to stop discussion,” Hunter said.

Under Robert’s Rules of Order, each member gets 10 minutes at the beginning of the meeting, and each member can speak twice, he said. Stopping the discussion required a vote, Hunter said.

Treasurer Sherry Tyson, the board’s parliamentarian, confirmed Hunter’s assertion.

Hunter went on to criticize Kimble’s leadership. Though she is in her second year as school board president, she still doesn’t know how to run a meeting, he said.

Williams called for calm.

“When I joined the board, I joined to save kids,” he said.

Two members, however, try to create controversies, Williams said. He didn’t identify which two, but said it’s the same two members who don’t attend the district’s graduation ceremonies.

The majority of the board understands the district has problems, he said. But too much time is wasted on arguments that aren’t about students.

“The district can’t go forward unless seven members work together,” Williams said. “What about showing up to a graduation or a teacher appreciation?”

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