State lifts corrective action plan for Youngstown schools


District corrects procedures for special education

By amanda tonoli

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

The Ohio Department of Education has cleared Youngstown City Schools from a corrective action plan in the special-education program.

The district was placed under a CAP in June 2016. Lori Kopp, district chief of student services, announced during Tuesday afternoon’s Academic Distress Commission meeting that the CAP has been lifted.

School district CEO Krish Mohip said he’s happy to have the CAP gone.

“It couldn’t have been done without the department team. ... Everyone pitched in,” Kopp said.

A review from the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Exceptional Children, based on an audit, found three areas in which the district did not adequately or properly follow required procedures regarding its special-education students. The report was released June 20, 2016.

“Due to the extent and nature” of the noncompliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Office of Exceptional Children “has determined that Youngstown City Schools is in violation of Free Appropriate Public Education requirements ... particularly with respect to its junior high and high school students with disabilities placed at East High School, Choffin Career & Technical Center” and Wilson Programs of Promise, the report said.

Rather than delivering services tailored specifically to individual special-education students, the district was applying standardized services or, in some cases, no services. In doing so, those students were being denied a free and public education, the report said.

In other business, the distress commission discussed the large amount of spending – $11 million over budget – during the CEO’s tenure.

“Overspending last year was always part of the plan,” Mohip said. “We wanted to bring back this district to [be] whole again.”

The conversation about this spending, Mohip said, was something that happened with the former ADC chairman, Brian Benyo.

John Richard, ADC chairman, said it is the desire of the commission to have ultimate transparency with items including finances.

“It would appear in the forecast rather than just showing up in the actuals,” he explained. “Otherwise, it’s difficult for us to understand or talk to someone who has a question. ... That’s the desire of the commission, so we’re not caught at the end of the fiscal year trying to make sense of how money was spent and what it was spent on.”

An item of contention was the major spending in sports.

Vincent Shivers, ADC member, asked what study was done to prove the feasibility of the costly sports programs.

The sports budget was unavailable during the meeting, but the costs include rebranding of not one but two teams – the East Golden Bears and the Chaney Cowboys.

Mohip said he built the sports program off what the community said it wanted.

“There was no study done,” he said.

Shivers fears the district could see more population loss because of the job losses coming to the General Motors Lordstown plant, causing a stress on the sports program.

On Monday, GM announced the Lordstown plant will discontinue the production of the Chevrolet Cruze as of March 1, 2019.

Richard suggested having quarterly reports specific to athletics and athletics spending.

The distress commission also will be in the process of forming a financial advisory committee made up of one board of education member, one ADC member and a few community members.

For those interested in the position, contact Richard at John.Richard@education.ohio.gov.

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