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Lorain Leaders Praise Ohio House Passage of Bill to End State School Takeovers

photo of classroom desks
Ohio lawmakers have passed a bill to end the current state policy of taking over failing local school districts.

The Ohio House has passed a bill that would end state takeovers of local school districts. The process, which has already taken over three northeast Ohio districts, would be replaced with a different model. 

Critics on the House floor blasted the state’s academic distress commission system that allows the state to take control of failing school districts.

The system was created in 2015 and has since been used in Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland. Opponents said it hasn’t proven to help.

Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) said the plan did not have enough local control and was rushed through the legislature.

“This vote will make sure that we mark the beginning of the end of an ill-conceived, destructive scheme,” Lepore-Hagan said.

The new plan would help failing schools through what’s called the community learning centers model. The bill now goes to the Senate.

The president of the Lorain School Board welcomes the passage of the bill and looks forward to the return of local control of the city’s school district. Mark Ballard says the margin of victory is unheard of in this kind of political environment. The measure was approved 83 to 12.

Ballard says the community looks forward to restoring pride in its schools.

Mark Ballard said he's grateful the new administration in Columbus was willing to listen.

“When you’re in a hostile takeover as we’ve been living in the last two years, it’s just undemocratic, so I think our community has bonded together. And now their voices are being heard down in Columbus, and I think they’ve seen the error of their ways and I’m just grateful," Ballard said.

The mayor of Lorain called the state appointed CEO of the city’s schools a “dictator” and tweeted that the bill will “end the disaster” in his city. 

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.