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Commission, board members talk to CEO candidates

Officials interview finalists for CEO job

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

By SAMANTHA PHILLIPS

sphillips@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The Youngstown City School District Academic Distress Commission, along with Youngstown Board of Education members Tina Cvetkovich and Ron Shadd, met Tuesday afternoon to privately interview two of the three finalists for the school district’s chief executive officer position.

John Richard, distress commission chairman, declined to disclose which candidates were interviewed.

The session followed local NAACP criticism of the qualifications used by a search firm to select candidates.

There was no public comment session during Tuesday’s meeting, and the interviews were conducted in executive session, which lasted more than three hours. The same procedure will be followed at today’s meeting, when the last candidate is interviewed.  

The three candidates are Steve Thompson of the Willoughby-East Lake City School District in Northeast Ohio, Justin Jennings of the Muskegon, Mich. City School District and Andy Tommelleo, who works as a consultant for the Ohio Department of Education’s support team in a Canfield Mahoning County Educational Service Center office. 

Krish Mohip, who was hired by the state-appointed academic distress commission in June 2016, will be leaving the school district after his contract ends this June. He became CEO of the city schools following the implementation of state House Bill 70 in July 2015. HB 70 gives the school district’s CEO complete operational, managerial and instructional control.

Mohip is paid $170,000 annually. His successor will earn between $170,000 and $190,000 annually. 

The YACD and two school board members will then meet again at the East High School Library at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

“I’m hoping we will be in a position to make a decision Thursday morning,” Richard said.

The Youngstown chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a news release early Tuesday about Tommelleo’s performance as he worked with the state support team that worked with the school district to improve its state report card.  

For example, the NAACP questioned, “how has Mr. Tommelleo and State Support Team 5 helped our children over the years?”

Tommelleo could not be reached Tuesday.

“They make a lot of assumptions,” Richard said in response to the release. “They are assuming what his specific role is. [Tommelleo] is not leading Youngstown City Schools; he is there as support.”

Richard said he was disappointed with the statement.

“My personal hope would be that the NAACP would be more solutions-oriented, rather than constantly pointing fingers,” he said.

Speaking with The Vindicator Tuesday, NAACP Youngstown chapter President George Freeman also criticized the initial applicant qualifications for the CEO position, which were sought by Finding Leaders, a firm retained by the academic distress commission to seek CEO candidates.

The qualifications listed a superintendent certification or license and “turnaround experience” as preferred but not required.

“Youngstown should not be a training ground,” Freeman said, adding that he believes candidates should have been required to have those qualifications, along with experience working in an urban school district.