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Coalition of education advocates calls for a new state school board district map

View of an empty classroom from the back of the room
Five school board seats will be on the November election. The deadline to file is August 10.

An education advocacy group is asking Gov. Mike DeWine to redraw lines for Ohio state school board districts.

The Honesty for Ohio Education Coalition authored an open letter to DeWine, arguing several state board of education districts are invalid and the map does not provide clear urban representation, as governed by Ohio law.

The argument, according to the coalition’s Piet van Lier, is that Ohio code requires state board of education districts to “consist of the territory of three contiguous state senate districts.”

The new school board map was drawn based on the second Ohio senate map created by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. But when a federal three-judge panel put the third state senate map in place in May, that invalidated the school board map, van Lier said. And the group is calling on DeWine’s office to address the problem.

“They should have resolved this sometime in the past month or two because you have school board candidates who are just trying to figure out what their districts are,” van Lier said. “Even school board members are trying to figure what their districts are, who they represent, which district they’re going to be representing.”

A spokesperson for DeWine’s office says the district lines cannot be changed after the January 31, 2022, deadline, but van Lier and his group say DeWine’s reading of the law is too narrow. They say the governor has until the end of January next year to make the changes.

The coalition also argues the governor’s map dilutes urban representation on the state school board for Cuyahoga and Franklin counties.

Under the map that was in place from 2012-2022, District 11 included part of Cuyahoga County and a portion of Lake County along the shore of Lake Erie. Under the new map, the district stretches to the western border of Cuyahoga County and south into suburban and rural areas including Medina, Wooster and Ashland.

“You know, right now, Franklin County and Cuyahoga County have two of the three elected Black elected members of the school board,” van Lier said, “and it’s much less likely that urban families – Black and brown families – in Cleveland and Columbus will be truly represented in this new makeup of the state board.”

Five Ohio school board seats – districts 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8 -- will be on the November 8, 2022, ballot. The filing deadline is August 10.

A rising senior at University School in Hunting Valley, Theo works as an intern for Ideastream Public Media. At US, he serves as the co-editor in chief of the school newspaper, co-head of the organization responsible for broadcasting school sports, and prefect-elect of Hawley house.
Annie Wu is the deputy editor of digital content for Ideastream Public Media.