Ohio lawmakers put state takeovers of failing schools on hold

Ohio Statehouse Newsroom

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio lawmakers decided to put new state takeovers of failing school districts on hold for a year.

However, three districts currently under the control of Academic Distress Commissions will remain that way.

During Gov. Mike DeWine’s discussion about the vetoes he made to the state operating budget, he took some time to urge lawmakers to address the school takeover issue and make it a priority.

There had been a push by lawmakers at the statehouse to do something about Academic Distress Commissions. In the budget passed this week, they agreed that no more failing schools would be taken over for one year, and now DeWine is weighing in.

“I understand the moratorium and that’s fine, but we have not solved this problem,” he said.

DeWine said the status quo is not acceptable and he wants to see legislation on his desk to address the situation.

“I think the solutions are on the table,” DeWine said. “I don’t think we need to think a whole lot more about it other than figuring out exactly what this legislature is willing to do.”

He added that the state cannot leave students behind when it comes to their education.

“A solution has to involve more involvement by the local school board, but the local community,” he said. “Having said that, we cannot turn our back on these kids, and we cannot say that when we have a failing school that the status quo is acceptable.”

Democratic State Sen. Teresa Fedor agrees things must change, but said more thinking may be exactly what needs to be done to resolve the issue correctly.

“Our goal should be to ensure that we have an accurate accountability system first before we start applying a flawed accountability system and judging schools based on flawed measurements,” she said.

Despite being in agreement over the need for change, there is still a disconnect between Republicans and Democrats.

“The State has to be willing to get involved earlier, I think,” DeWine said. “That’s another part of the solution is let’s don’t wait until the school falls over the cliff.”

“I will fight tooth and nail and never give up until we have a quality, reliable, honest, verifiable accountability system first, and then go ahead, let the competition begin and let’s measure, but a rigged system is a sham,” Fedor said.

According to a spokesperson for the Senate GOP caucus, Senate Republicans plan to work on this issue when they return after the summer break.

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