Y’town Plan survives assault

Hey, Jackie Adair, “troll” this.

Or better yet, let’s play a kid’s game – something you and your colleagues in the the “brain trust” (tongue is planted firmly in cheek) should be able to master:

“I spy with my one good eye something beginning with the letter ‘L.’”

“Give up? How about ‘Loser’ – which is what you, Jackie, and the other misguided individuals in the city of Youngstown are – in light of your failure to get the Ohio General Assembly to repeal a state law that gave rise to the Youngstown Plan for the academically troubled city school district.”

Is use of the word “loser” overly harsh?

Not when it’s viewed in the context of Adair’s virulent attack on this writer last month in response to a column about the dysfunctional Youngstown Board of Education, of which Adair is a member.

Here are the opening paragraphs of the column that obviously struck a nerve:

“Krish Mohip, out-going chief executive officer of the academically challenged Youngstown City School District, had nothing to lose when he appeared before the Ohio Senate Education Committee.

“Thus, Mohip unleashed a verbal barrage against the dysfunctional school board and the myopic Youngstown Education Association.

“Indeed, some of what the CEO said may warrant a criminal investigation. He has decided to call it quits after just three years at the helm. His contract expires at the end of July.”

The specter of a “criminal investigation” undoubtedly landed with a thud in Youngstown.

In an e-mail sent to a slew of area residents, including other members of the school board, Adair had this to say:

“After reading this uninformed, biased piece of crap written by the little one eyed troll, B DeSouza, I have been moved to comment, to once again challenge these lies and call on you intelligent members of our community to rise up in protest!

“I truly don’t understand the vindicator’s refusal to print the truth! They continue to print lies about the school board! Bertram and other vindicator staff have never bothered to attend a board meeting or meet with us to see and hear for themselves the truth!”

Before dealing with “the truth,” as Adair perceives it, let’s focus on her description of this writer: “ ... this uninformed, biased piece of crap written by the little one eyed troll, B DeSouza ...”

Little? How unimaginative and pedestrian. Couldn’t Adair have been more creative? How about “diminutive”? Or better yet, “petite”?

But be that as it may, Adair’s contention that this writer has not told the truth about the academically crippled urban school district or the elected school board demands a response.

In 2015, the Republican- controlled Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 70, and Republican Gov. John Kasich signed the measure into law.

The law was designed to change the governance of the Youngstown school system, which for years had suffered the indignity of being in the state’s academic cellar.

The main provision of HB 70 is the appointment of a state-mandated academic distress commission to replace the school board as the policy-making body.

And the commission’s primary responsibility is to hire a chief executive officer to replace the superintendent for the day-to-day operation of the district.

The Youngstown Plan, as HB 70 is called because it was first launched in the city, gives the CEO sweeping powers and unsurpassed authority over every aspect of the district.

It also relegates the elected board to an advisory role. Therein lies the problem.

From the day Krish Mohip was appointed CEO by the distress commission, school board members, led by President Brenda Kimble, have filed lawsuits – in conjunction with the local and state teachers unions – and have been unrelenting in their demand that the General Assembly repeal HB 70 and return control of the Youngstown district to the school board.

While there’s a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of HB 70 before the Ohio Supreme Court, opponents of the Youngstown Plan have taken their fight to the General Assembly.

They succeeded in persuading the GOP majority in the House, led by Speaker Larry Householder, to pass legislation repealing HB 70. Householder, a Republican who won a bitter fight for speaker with the help of Democrats in the House, obviously was paying off a political debt when he pushed through the repeal measure.

The GOP controlled Senate was a different matter. During weeks of committee hearings, opponents and proponents had many opportunities to show why HB 70 should or should not be repealed.

By any measure, CEO Mohip’s testimony was most compelling and, as it turns out, most effective.

In the end, the Senate refused to along with the House. Thus, Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland will continue to be under the governance of distress commissions and management of chief executive officers until October 2020, at which time the General Assembly will revisit the issue.

There’s a moratorium on state oversight of all other academically distressed school districts.

Thus, while Jackie Adair and other members of the school board and Democratic politicians from this area led by state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown continue to rail against HB 70, the following comment from Mohip during his Senate testimony is worth repeating:

“In June 2016, I accepted the offer to lead the Youngstown city schools, Ohio’s first district to function under the governance of HB 70. At that time, I did not realize just how contentious this newly minted law was, or the fierce opposition that did not want to see the changes occur that were needed to unlock the children of Youngstown from the shackles of failure, placed on them by dysfunctional adults seeking to hold tight to the status quo.

“The failures to appropriately educate children were entrenched in the city schools.

Why would anyone with an ounce of humanity want to return Youngstown’s children to the shackles of failure?