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Youngstown City Schools can do without drama

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

222Here’s what W. Craig Zimpher, chairman of SERB, wrote in dismissing an unfair labor practices charge filed by the Youngstown Education Association:

“Information gathered during the investigation revealed that House Bill 70 provides the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with ‘carte blanche’ in regards to bringing the District out of ‘academic emergency.’ Under the provisions outlined in House Bill 70, the CEO was under no obligation to negotiate the implementation or the effects of the recommended five (5%) percent salary increase with the Union. Prior to any implementation, the only approval required by the CEO was that of the Academic Distress Committee [sic], which gave CEO Mohip its approval.”

Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of “carte blanche” says it all: “Full discretion.”

The keyword is “full.”

Superimpose SERB’s ruling onto the year-by-year implementation of HB 70, the Youngstown Plan, and what you get is a CEO with unfettered authority.

Members of the Youngstown Board of Education and leaders of the teachers union aren’t willing to accept this reality, but they will not succeed in their legal challenges.

Indeed, the courts have upheld the constitutionality of HB 70, enacted to save academic failing school districts like Youngstown’s from total collapse.

Even so, the president of the school board, Brenda Kimble, insists she has no intention of ending her campaign against Mohip, which we consider ridiculous.

But Kimble will have to come up with the money to pay for any future legal appeals and lawsuits. That’s because the CEO will not permit taxpayer dollars to be used for any challenges to his authority, the powers of the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission and the constitutionality of HB 70.

On the other hand, the teachers union is unencumbered financially from trying to upend the Youngstown Plan, but it won’t succeed in the courts.


In addition, the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Republican Gov. John R. Kasich, who were the brains behind the Youngstown Plan, have no intention of changing the law.

HB 70 gives Mohip, who was appointed CEO in June 2016 by the distress commission, full operational, managerial and instructional control of the system.

But the law goes further and details the additional powers granted to the CEO as each year passes.

HB 70 went into effect in July 2015 and the first state report card under the law was in September 2015, according to one interpretation.

If so, this past September’s report card would have been the third, which means Mohip now has the authority to “limit, suspend, or alter any provision of a collective bargaining agreement entered into, modified, renewed, or extended on or after the effective date” of the Youngstown Plan.

Thus, Mohip’s recent policy initiatives with regard to the grading of student homework and teacher evaluation are a continuation of his consolidation of power, as envisioned in the law.

The school board and the YEA should resign themselves to the fact there is no going back to failed policies and actions that deprived Youngstown’s children of a quality education.

The district now has a CEO and a governing body – the academic distress commission – that have just one constituency, the students.

The games played by Kimble and her colleagues on the school board and the leadership of the teachers union are evidence of their misguided priorities.

The days of permitting the YEA to call the shots and the special interests to flex their muscles are gone.

Kasich and thoughtful leaders of the community have been clear in what they expect from Mohip: a sea change in the academic fortunes of the urban school district.

So long as progress is being made, they, along with this newspaper, will continue to support the CEO and the academic distress commission.

In 2010, shortly after he won the governor’s race, Kasich told decision- makers in state government they had a simple choice: Get on the bus (driven by him) or get run over.

That same choice now applies to the Youngstown Board of Education, the Youngstown Education Association and any other detractors of the Youngstown Plan: Get on the bus (driven by Mohip) or get run over.

We’re on the bus.