DeWine says HB 70 must be replaced

WARREN — Gov. Mike DeWine said he’s not a supporter of the law that took away local control from Youngstown and two other school districts, but a comprehensive plan must be developed to replace it.

During a meeting with The Vindicator, DeWine said: “I don’t like the situation we’re in. I understand that. I made it clear to the Legislature we need to move away from what we’re doing currently. But we can’t leave these kids with no additional help because there’s some historic problems and we have to deal with those problems. We can’t walk away from them.”

Under House Bill 70, referred to as the Youngstown Plan and signed into law in 2015, academically failing school districts were taken over by the state and run by a CEO. Youngstown was the first, followed later by East Cleveland and Lorain. The state passed a moratorium in July on having other poor-performing school districts lose local control.

The law also called for school districts under state control to dissolve their school boards if they don’t get an overall grade on the state report card of C or higher in the fourth year, after three failing years. Youngstown last month received an overall F grade for the fourth straight year. That will eliminate the existing elected seven-member board effective Jan. 1. It will be replaced with a five-member board appointed by Mayor Jamael Tito Brown.

DeWine doesn’t agree with the elimination of an elected board, but the Republican governor said a comprehensive bill that includes financial assistance from the state needs to be approved by the Legislature before HB 70 is gone.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Hey, this didn’t work, let’s just go back to where we were.,'” he said. But “back to where we were wasn’t working very well.”

The Ohio House passed a bill eliminating HB 70, but the Senate hasn’t approved it.

Also, the Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments on the constitutionality of the bill. No timeline was given for when the court will decide the case.

“I believe in local control,” DeWine said. “I’ve made myself very clear to the Legislature what I would like to see. I don’t think we should be in a situation where we could get rid of the current law without something to replace it. The idea of nothing when there are problems is not acceptable.”

He continued: “So what I’d like to see is much earlier in the process when there are flags going up and there’s a problem” the state “needs to come in based on what the community asks for.” If the local community wants an outside company to come in, it can do that, DeWine said.

The state needs to provide financial assistance to help troubled schools with a “remedial plan,” DeWine said. “The state has some responsibility to make sure these children have a quality education.”

dskolnick@tribtoday.comDeWine says HB 70 must be replaced


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