Watch an earlier report on the Department of Education lawsuit in the video player above.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A temporary restraining order blocking the stripping of power from the state board of education has been extended.
The restraining order, set to expire Thursday, will now expire on Oct. 20, Judge Karen Phipps ruled after an emergency hearing Wednesday. The extension further delays a ruling on whether an overhaul of the state’s education agency should be indefinitely paused while a court decides its constitutionality.
Significant changes to the Department of Education are embroiled in a legal challenge originally filed by seven members of the state board of education. The challenge, now led by two parents — who also serve on the state board — and the Toledo school board, seeks to block the restructuring of the education department.
The changes, passed as part of the state’s biennial budget, transfer most of the school board’s and state superintendent’s powers to a governor-appointed director. The changes also included a renaming to the Department of Education and Workforce.
Republican lawmakers originally introduced the changes as standalone bills to address what they saw as an ineffective, slow-moving school board failing to take action in light of struggling students and lowering test scores. A single person who reports to the governor can be held more accountable than a partially-elected, 19-member board, supporters of the changes have argued.
Challengers to the overhaul, however, claim the changes are akin to a hostile takeover of K-12 education. They argue the transfer of most powers also violates the state’s constitutional mandate to have a board of education at the helm of the Department of Education.
Phipps granted, and then extended, a temporary restraining order blocking the changes from going into effect Oct. 3. But the state has argued that the restraining order did not prevent the dissolution of the Department of Education. To prevent “chaos,” Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday announced the Department of Education and Workforce would operate in the old department’s place — but he wouldn’t name a director nor take an “active” role in its creation.
Late Tuesday, the plaintiffs asked the court to clarify the restraining order, arguing the state’s interpretation of the order is not in good faith. The state has the opportunity to respond to the request for clarification before the judge makes her decision.
Phipps also delayed another deadline, previously set for noon Wednesday, for parties to submit briefs in support of their position on whether she should grant a preliminary injunction. The parties now have until noon on Oct. 16.