District CEO Krish Mohip publicly chastises his own appointed superintendent
By Amanda Tonoli
District CEO Krish Mohip publicly chastised his own appointed superintendent a day after the NAACP sent a letter to Youngstown City Schools Superintendent Joe Meranto accusing him of making statements that were “linguistically racist in tone.”
Earlier this week, during a roundtable discussion at Choffin Career and Technical Center with local lawmakers, Meranto said failures in the district are a result of the middle-class abandoning the schools, with families who can afford to move their students out of the district doing so thanks to programs such as open enrollment.
“It’s not a race issue or a union issue,” he said Monday. “It’s a poverty issue, and we need to talk about what we can do to fight that.”
Jimma McWilson, NAACP Youngstown Chapter vice president, said in a letter to Meranto that he found Meranto’s comments “not only disparaging, degrading, and debasing to our students and their families, but linguistically racist in tone, if not in intent.”
“Families have a choice,” the letter says. “That choice has been to seek a quality and equitable education regardless of class status, caste status and race. Your remark leads one to believe that poor families don’t have the same equal protection under the law that you have ...
The responsibility for educating students, McWilson continued in his letter, “belongs to the highly paid professionals who work in Youngstown City Schools” — not district families.
Youngstown City Schools CEO Krish Mohip said, in a district news release Friday, he agreed that race is a factor in public education.
“Meranto’s comments are his own and do not represent those of myself or the district,” Mohip said in the release. “That view is contrary to my philosophy of education and to the belief system I’m working to instill in this school district.”
Mohip added that although the effects of poverty are a challenge, they are not a life sentence.
“We as a district must stop making excuses for why our children are not achieving and do the work necessary to fill in any gap that exists, including food, safety and love,” Mohip said in the release.
Mohip’s comments come two days after The Vindicator reported the Ohio Department of Education is investigating him after the former chairman of the Academic Distress Commission made allegations of “inappropriate conduct with a female attorney and/or job applicant,” according to ODE records.
But Meranto said Friday that his intent in talking about disparities in the district was essentially to echo Mohip’s sentiment.
“I support this district,” he said. “The things [Mohip] has brought in — including preschool in every building, the after-school program in the summer, the expanded athletic programs — are all examples of wraparound services the district needs ... I’ve always said we need to provide more wraparound services for our families, but in this school system, it’s hard with limited resources.”