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Two New Potential Members Appointed to Ohio State School Board After Two Others Resign

State Board of Education
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
The 19 members of the State Board of Education meets for a two-day session monthly, as they did in this photo from 2017.

Local school board races are getting a lot of attention this off-year election.

And as of today, there were two open seats on the State Board of Education, as two of eight appointees resigned. Gov. Mike DeWine has appointed a corporate lawyer from southwest Ohio and an official with the state’s largest farmers group to replace them.

Richard J. Chernesky specializes in mergers and acquisitions and venture capital and is a longtime Republican donor from Waynesville in Warren County. Brandon Kern is the state and national policy senior director for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. He's from Amanda in Fairfield County.

They replace board president Laura Kohler and member Eric Poklar, who resigned. The Senate confirms board appointments.

President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) had said he was concerned about several issues but first of all what he called “this diversity thing”. He's referring to the anti-racism resolution passed in the summer of 2020, which notes the achievement gap between different demographics and emphasizing equity and opportunity for students of color.

It was supported by Kohler and Poklar. They also voted against rescinding it and replacing it this month with a resolution that that promotes academic excellence without regard to race.

Huffman had also said he was concerned about "geographical diversity" was among those issues with the governor's appointees, and that "nearly all of them are from central Ohio, and I don't think that's representative of the state."

Kohler and Poklar, who resigned, were both from the Columbus area. Kern is from Fairfield County, just southeast of Columbus. Two of the eight appointees on the board are from Lakeview and Sidney in northwest Ohio, not far from Huffman's hometown of Lima.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.