7 elected members of Ohio's state school board sue to stop power shift to governor
Seven of the Democratic members of Ohio's state board of education are suing to stop a provision in the state budget that transfers the authority to make many important decisions from the board to the governor.
The budget includes a plan opposed by Democrats to shift decisions on curriculum and academic standards from the board to the Department of Education and Workforce, headed by an appointee of the governor. That plan mirrored two bills that had been proposed to make that change.
Board member Teresa Fedor says the lawsuit argues that's in violation of the 1953 constitutional amendment creating the state school board and strips parents of the power to pick its 11 elected members.
"This brazen power grab flies in the face of Ohio residents who value local input and control over their children's education," Fedor said.
Fedor adds the provision was a late addition to the budget bill, which is legislation that has to pass. And she said the provision violates the single-subject rule that's required for legislation.
"It's important for the citizens to know that the claims in the lawsuit are about democracy, transparency and accountability. And, of course, none of that happened when they came up with this crazy scheme," Fedor said.
Governors have wanted more control over the state board of education for years. But Democrats were angry when bills were introduced to shift the rulemaking power from the board to the governor, just weeks after some progressive state school board candidates were elected last fall.
State school board races are nonpartisan, but the seven members suing are all progressives, and some have run as or been elected as Democrats in the past, including Fedor. But she notes a resolution opposing the proposal was approved in April by the elected members and two appointees of Gov. Mike DeWine — Walt Davis and Sue Hackett.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted responded to the lawsuit on X, the platform formally known as Twitter, saying, "After two years of stalling in appointing a new superintendent of public instruction, this move adds to the hypocrisy of the Democrat members trying to hold education in Ohio hostage in order to gain power over how our children learn."