Scoring Our Schools: A closer look at a school district under academic distress

Scoring Our Schools: A closer look at a school district under academic distress

Members of an Ohio school system now run by a state-appointed Chief Executive Officer sent out a major warning to Columbus City Schools: "You don't want this in your district."

Columbus City Schools received its first overall "F" on the state report card this year. According to state law, two more failing grades in the next consecutive school years will lead CCS into "academic distress." Youngstown City Schools has already reached academic distress and that district's CEO was appointed two years ago.

"I'm kind of the state take over guy that nobody wanted," said Youngstown Schools CEO Krish Mohip. "There was fear mongering of the CEO coming in to fire everybody and bring charters."

As CEO, Mohip has complete and managerial control over the school district. He does not have to answer to School Board President Brenda Kimble or the other six members of the elected school board. He updates an academic distress commission per quarter on his progress. Commission members are all appointed by state and community leaders.

"It's been a drastic change," Youngstown City School Board President Brenda Kimble told ABC 6. "Our district is in shambles."

However, Mohip said he tried to work with the school board when he first arrived but faced a wall of negativity. He admitted he stopped going to their meetings.

"You can argue that this is the wrong thing," said Mohip. "It takes away local control. My question would be, have we been failing?"

Like Columbus, Youngstown started a lotto system with its schools to offer special programs for kids with good behavior or good grades. Mohip abolished that lotto system and went back to neighborhood schools. More controversy stemmed with the amount of money being spent.

"We need a levy now because of his spending," said Kimble.

While demoting the existing superintendent, Mohip hired more high-priced personnel. At one point, the CEO said he needed to hire more administrators for the Youngstown School System but is now starting to scale them back. He said he is seeing student math and literacy scores improve. However, Youngstown still earned an overall "F" for the 2017-2018 school year. Mohip told ABC 6 he will not be renewing his two year contract and plans to move back to the Chicago area.

"I've been scared a few times with some vandalism," Mohip said. "The first time I wasn't sure if it was the act of randomness. The third time you begin to worry."

Kimble said she does not want to see another CEO after Mohip's departure.

"This is like a nightmare that glooms over every public system's head," Kimble said. "You might be doing good now. But tomorrow if you're not, this is what you're going to face."

The Youngstown City School Board filed a lawsuit against its take-over. They argue the process is unconstitutional since their power as elected officials have been striped away. Last month, The Ohio State Supreme Court agreed it'd hear the case.


Follow Lisa Rantala on Facebook and Twitter: @rantalawsyx

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