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On Tuesday, January 8, attorneys for the Canton City School District Board of Education filed an amicus (or Friend of the Court) brief with the Supreme Court of Ohio in the case of Youngstown City School District Board of Education versus the State of Ohio in regards to House Bill 70.

House Bill 70 allows for the state takeover of under-performing school districts by dissolving local control and creating Academic Distress Commissions. This happens after three consecutive years of an overall F grade. The Youngstown City School District lawsuit, as well as one filed on behalf of the East Cleveland Board of Education, asserts that HB 70 is unconstitutional.

Although Canton is not a party to the currently pending litigation, Canton has a strong interest in this matter. Specifically, Canton’s amicus brief voices the Board’s opposition to the HB 70 amendments that allow an academic distress commission and an unelected CEO to take over academically struggling school districts that fail to meet certain state report card standards.  This usurps the authority of locally elected boards of education and the individuals that they hire to lead school districts. The Board feels strongly that maintaining local control in school district governance is vitally important and that HB 70 is unconstitutional.

The filing on this amicus brief allows the Canton City School District to contribute to current litigation without incurring significant costs.

CCSD currently is in its first year of academic distress. If it receives an “F” on the state report card for two more consecutive years, the academic commission will appoint a CEO to run the district. The CEO can close struggling buildings and negate teachers’ and administrative contracts.

Assistant Superintendent Dan Nero, speaking on behalf of the district, said he hopes other districts will join in the efforts to repeal House Bill 70 and that the court will appreciate Canton’s perspective.

“Taking over school districts based on state test scores is not a viable solution for raising student achievement,” he said. “We have the professionals in place and the right initiatives to address our issues. It is imperative that we let these initiatives grow and not put our schools into the hands of people who don’t understand our students and families, or have a stake in their success.”

Lisa Reicosky, Executive Communications Coordinator