HB 70 described as ‘leading sheep to slaughter’
By Amanda Tonoli
House Bill 70’s impact on public education is the equivalent to “leading sheep to slaughter,” said a Lorain school board member.
Tim Williams described his district as “captured” by HB 70 during Tuesday’s community meeting hosted by Youngstown Board of Education members and the Community Leaders Coalition on Education, which is composed of local community activists.
The meeting was at Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church’s Family Life Center on Garland Avenue on the East Side.
HB 70 was the main topic of discussion at the meeting. Gov. John Kasich signed it into law in July 2015. The law allows a state-appointed academic distress commission to step in to oversee school districts after three consecutive years of failing grades on state report cards. The commission has the authority to hire a CEO to lead a school district.
The commission hired Krish Mohip to lead Youngstown City Schools in June 2016. The bill gives Mohip complete operational, managerial and instructional control of the district.
Lorain schools also are under the auspices of HB 70.
Despite trying to learn from Youngstown’s mistakes, Williams said Lorain schools are in the same poor academic state as Youngstown schools.
“These experiments are not new,” Williams said in reference to HB 70. “When you disengage a community from things fundamentally indigenous to that community, the outcome you get is not excitable.”
Williams referred to HB 70 as “a crafty version of taxation without representation” and called it “one of the worst pieces of legislation ever drafted.”
He reasoned that since the law is so vague, there is a lot of room for questions with little to no guidance from the state.
Williams encouraged school boards, such as Youngstown’s, either facing HB 70 now or anticipating facing it in the future to come together to figure out a way to “maintain integrity.”
“We were there before House Bill 70, we were there during and we’ll be there after,” Williams said. “When [the state] leaves [the district], we need to make it so we will not be in a state of disrepair.”
The fear of being left in disrepair is something Youngstown school board members have expressed, especially board member Jackie Adair.
“The board decided we needed to get our narrative out to the community,” she said. “We’re talking about issues impacting us financially and academically and how we feel about how CEO Mohip has performed this year.”
The meeting drew in nearly 50 people who listened to Youngstown, Lorain and Warrensville Heights board members, an Ohio School Boards Association representative, parents and teachers.
Youngstown board members Corrine Sanderson and Dario Hunter did not attend the meeting.