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Reporting on the state of education in your community and across the country.

East Cleveland Schools Sue To Halt State Takeover

East Cleveland's Shaw High School [Nick Castele / ideastream]
East Cleveland's Shaw High School

East Cleveland schools have gone to court to block the state from setting up an academic distress commission in the city.

Forming a commission is the first step in a state takeover of the school district. Next, commission members appoint a chief executive officer to run the schools.

Attorneys for the schools argue the state wrongly classified East Cleveland as a failing district. The district says only this past year’s F should count against it, because this is the first school year in which the state issued overall letter grades. It takes three years of Fs to trigger a state takeover.

“Based on an improper reading of Ohio law, flawed report card, and unconstitutional legislation, Defendants seek to wrest control away from the Board mid-school year and impose an unelected academic distress commission,” the complaint reads.

The school district’s complaint asks the court to issue an injunction stopping the takeover and to declare House Bill 70, which authorized the takeover process, unconstitutional.

The complaint also asks the judge to rule that the state lacked the authority to give the district an F for the 2017-2018 academic year and two previous years.

The district sought a temporary restraining order to stop the takeover in the near term. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Stephen Gall denied that on Friday. Another hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 26.

The Ohio Department of Education last week notified East Cleveland schools the state would be taking over the district. Ohio law says a commission must be appointed within 30 days.

ODE spokesperson Brittany Halpin, when asked by email if the state would pause while the lawsuit proceeded, replied, “We’re following the law.”

Read the East Cleveland schools' lawsuit below. Mobile users can read it here.

Read the state's response to East Cleveland's motion for a temporary restraining order. Mobile users can read here.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.