COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Seven state board of education members have won a temporary restraining order blocking the overhaul of the Department of Education.
Judge Karen Held Phipps granted a temporary restraining order Friday afternoon allowing the state board of education to maintain most of its powers, for now. In two weeks, Phipps will decide whether to put a longer pause on significant changes to the Department of Education — the day before those changes are supposed to take effect.
“This case we brought forward is about democracy, accountability and transparency,” State Board of Education member Teresa Fedor said.
Fedor and other board members filed suit against the state Tuesday, seeking to block the implementation of legislation added to the biennial budget in June.
The legislation overhauls the Ohio Department of Education, creating a new Department of Education and Workforce. The governor will select a director for this department and much of the oversight of the state’s education department will shift to that director — rather than a superintendent the current board elects.
Some of the board’s responsibilities are things like evaluating curriculum, policy implementation and rulemaking. Those responsibilities will also go to the new director, while the board will maintain the ability to oversee the discipline of licensees and transfer of school district territories.
“We’ve seen for a very long time now, a dysfunctional state school board that really is unaccountable, that’s not getting the job done,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. “For two years, they have failed to hire someone to lead the Department of Education as their superintendent.”
Fedor said the argument Husted — and other Republicans — have raised presents a “false narrative” to justify an executive takeover of the education department. And some parents are worried about what the shift in power could mean.
“It’s unclear to me now how this governor appointee role will engage with the public, be accountable to the public, have the ability to represent such a diverse and wide constituency,” said Dena Sico, a parent of two Columbus City School students.
The school board members’ complaint asks the judge to sever the Department of Education overhaul from the rest of the budget and render it void. A preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for Oct. 2.
Read the order below.