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Group Calls For Racial, Local Representation In School Takeover Plans

Dom Ernest L. Gomez/Shutterstock

A national advocacy group is calling on lawmakers to prioritize the specific needs and challenges of students and education leaders of color as possible changes to the school takeover process are considered.


When a school district receives a failing grade on its report card three years in a row, the state takes over through an academic distress commission. A CEO is also appointed to guide the process.

Lawmakers, community advocates, and school leaders have expressed concerns about the state takeover of local districts. Academic distress commissions have been formed in three districts so far, Youngstown, Lorain, and East Cleveland.

The Ohio House and Senate have proposed different pieces of legislation to either repeal or reform the process.

Education Leaders of Color is not taking an official stance on any of those proposals. Instead, the group wants lawmakers to consider three provisions as they look to change their school transformation model.

The group wants leadership appointed to people with proven experience, local education leaders of color to be in a position with decision-making power, and more funding.

Victor Ruiz is executive director of Esperanza Inc., a group based in Cleveland that provides education services to Hispanic students and families. He says having community leaders of color in positions of power will help provide better representation for the students.

“Students of color are impacted at a higher level in these school takeover processes. And that’s why ensuring that the community is engaged deeply is so critical to this,” says Ruiz.

A change to the school takeover model has been proposed in the state budget deal, which as of Wednesday is still stuck in negotiations.

The House passed HB154 which would help failing schools through what’s called the community learning centers model. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Two other bills have been introduced:

HB127 - Prohibits the creation of any new academic distress commissions

SB110 - Modifies the current process with changes that give more power to local officials

According to the Ohio Department of Education, Dayton City Schools received its second-consecutive “F” grade in 2018.

The following districts received their first overall “F” in 2018:

  • Ashtabula City Schools
  • Canton City Schools
  • Columbus City Schools
  • Euclid City Schools
  • Lima City Schools
  • Mansfield City Schools
  • North College Hill City Schools
  • Painesville City Schools and
  • Toledo City Schools
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