Ohio’s courts will decide who should be calling the shots when it comes to our state’s education system. The budget that passed the state legislature this summer included a plan to restructure the education department. It will become the Department of Education & Workforce, and a lot of the Ohio Board of Education’s powers will be stripped. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said it was a necessary action.
“It wasn’t working right before,” he told News 5. “The State School Board couldn’t even pass simple resolutions, they couldn’t hire a new State Superintendent, they have been largely irrelevant in many parts of the education policy debate.” Husted was further concerned by the timing of the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday. The new law takes effect on Oct. 3.
“This 11th hour lawsuit just before this was going to take effect is upending our ability to improve the quality of education in Ohio,” he said.
The new Department of Education & Workforce will be run by a Director who is appointed by Governor Mike DeWine. Teresa Fedor represents District 2 on the Ohio School Board, which covers northwest Ohio. She worries the change will eliminate transparency.
“This is doomed to be corrupt,” she said. Fedor is one of the seven school board members named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which alleges the restructuring is a violation of the Ohio constitution. She said their most important responsibility is taking laws passed by the Ohio legislature and turning them into rules, regulations and standards for Ohio schools.
“During that process, it’s 100% public. Public transparency, accountability, public voices coming forward. That will be eliminated,” she said. “That is undemocratic, that is authoritarian, and they need to be stopped.”
There is one point of agreement here. Both sides voiced concerns about accountability.
“I think the legislature, and really a lot of people, became frustrated with [the state school board] that they couldn’t get basic work done,” said Lt. Gov. Husted. But Fedor said it’s the Governor’s office that needs to be held accountable.
“These are false narratives created at the moment where it looked like they could blame the state Board of Education to take advantage of the situation,” she said.
There is a hearing on the lawsuit scheduled Thursday afternoon at 1:00 p.m., according to Fedor.
News 5 knows the outcome of this case will impact families across the state. We’ll continue to follow through on this process and make sure you know what’s happening every step of the way.
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