Lorain Leaders Seek Varying Interventions In School Management Conflicts

Lorain city school board president Mark Ballard.
Lorain city school board president Mark Ballard.
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The CEO of Lorain city schools will not be joining a meeting called by the mayor to improve the relationship between the CEO, the academic distress commission and the school board.

In a letter to the school community, CEO David Hardy Jr wrote, “I believe it is in the best interest of our district, and its children, that any discussions pertaining to our future are reserved to be heard by a full Academic Distress Commission.”

Mayor Chase Ritenauer’s call for a face to face meeting between the three parties came two days after school board president Mark Ballard addressed a letter to Governor Mike DeWine asking his administration to eliminate the academic distress commission.

Ballard hopes the new administration in Columbus could mean a new perspective on education.

Under House Bill 70, an ADC was created to hire a CEO to run the district and develop an academic improvement plan. The CEO has the authority of a superintendent and school board. 

Ballard writes the academic distress commission is an “unconstitutional burden” and asks Governor DeWine to instead “pursue innovative” strategies to improve struggling districts.

He says since the state takeover in 2017, Lorain’s schools have been “unable to function.”

“The community is looking for answers and they can never get the answers to the real questions,” Ballard said in an interview Wednesday. “So what you find is a community in turmoil. People are taking sides and everyone is at their wits’ end.”

His letter criticizes the distress commission and HB70 without mentioning the CEO. 

Hardy, in his Wednesday letter, said his communication with Ballard was “the strongest and most consistent communication—between myself and any sitting board member—that has occurred during my tenure.”

Lorain, East Cleveland and Youngstown school districts are all under state control. All three district are currently suing the state.

Governor DeWine’s office says they have not received the letter from Ballard and declined to comment until they do.

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