CEO finalists to be interviewed by academic distress team

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Search firm Finding Leaders of Sagamore Hills, Ohio, has pared a list of nearly 150 applicants to six candidates for Youngstown’s Academic Distress Commission to interview for the city school district’s next CEO.

Current CEO Krish Mohip did not seek a contract renewal and is leaving in July.

John Richard, the commission’s chairman, said Finding Leaders has done a good job and most of what the YADC is looking for can be found in the six candidates.

Finding Leaders was contracted by the district for $23,000,

“There’s always a difference in how people look on paper and how they are in person, so we’ll be asking a lot of questions,” he said.

“We have a strong pool of candidates, but we are anxious to get to talking to them face-to-face Wednesday, late afternoon.”

The six candidates are:

Marion Smith, executive director of Learning Improvement, Kent Schools, Kent, Wash.

Andrew Tommelleo, state support team, Mahoning County Educational Service Center.

Donetrus Hill, Dayton City Schools high school principal.

Justin Jennings, superintendent of Muskegon Schools, Muskegon, Mich.

John Thomas, retired superintendent of Alliance and Delaware schools, now a consultant.

Steve Thompson, superintendent of Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools, Ohio.

The paring process involved screening and looking at all of the materials necessary for the district’s leader, said Steve Farnsworth of Finding Leaders.

“We weeded out those with experience that didn’t match what it was the Youngstown City Schools seems to need based on the feedback of 11 focus groups,” he said. “We ended up with six [people] who we thought would be a good fit. We are not looking for the best leader in the world, but a leader who had the skills and experience and characteristics the commission, board [of education] and focus groups said they were looking for.”

Richard agreed with Farnsworth.

“We are looking at this more than anything as an opportunity for things to improve for the students here,” he said.

The YADC will meet in special session at 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at East High School, 474 Bennington Ave.

Both meetings will begin in the library and then commission members will move into executive session to conduct the interviews.

One of the candidates will be chosen by the YADC in late April or early May to replace Mohip, who is paid $170,000 annually.

The Youngstown City School District is under the control of a CEO because of Ohio House Bill 70.

HB 70, also referred to as the Youngstown Plan, was signed into law by former Gov. John Kasich in July 2015. It enabled a state-appointed academic distress commission to hire a CEO – Mohip – to lead the district and out of failing academic performance. The bill gives Mohip complete operational, managerial and instructional control, which the locally elected school board has contested in court.


Suggested by the Finding Leaders search firm for the Youngstown City Schools CEO position, these interviews are:

April 10

5 p.m. Marion Smith

6:15 p.m. Andrew Tommelleo

7:30 p.m. Donetrus Hill

April 11

5 p.m. Justin Jennings

6:15 p.m. John Thomas

7:30 p.m. Steve Thompson

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