CLEVELAND — Ohio gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich today disclosed that appointed officials who are overseeing the operations of Youngstown public schools are covertly considering action that could rip control away from local voters and privatize the entire public school system.
“A private takeover of public education in Youngstown for the purpose of converting the district into a charter school system will enrich private charter school operators and financiers and break the teachers’ union. It will also deprive the citizens of Youngstown and their children of their Ohio Constitutional right to the establishment of ‘a thorough and efficient system of common schools.’ Those are the words in the order issued by of the Ohio Supreme Court in the 1997 DeRolph decision, a decision which has been ignored by the state officials who have enabled, promoted and provided billions of dollars in funding to private, for-profit charter schools in the state.
“HB 70, enacted in 2015, is the law that gave the state sweeping authority to take control of public school systems deemed ‘in distress’. It was actually a gift to a corrupt charter schools industry that returned the favor by making millions of dollar in political campaign contributions to supportive public officials.
“Under HB70, the appointed overseers can completely shut down the entire public school system and re-open it as a private charter school system.
“The contemplated disestablishment of public education in Youngstown is clearly contrary to the Supreme Court’s DeRolph decision and an outright theft of the Constitutional rights of children and the statutory rights of taxpayers in the Youngstown District. It is illegal, unethical, and immoral.
“To stop this usurpation of the rights of children, parents, and taxpayers in Youngstown, it is imperative that HB 70 be repealed; and honest legislators should immediately step forward and introduce legislation to repeal that law.
“I am urging elected officials, community leaders, parents, teachers, and other concerned parties to come together and take every measure necessary to stop appointed officials and private interests from obliterating the public school system in Youngstown. And I would be happy to assemble a legal team to seek appropriate court action, including seeking injunctive relief against this horrible abuse of discretion and power.
“The scheme that’s being hatched behind closed doors by appointed members of the Academic Distress Commission and other interests must be stopped.”
Kucinich noted that the Lorain Public School District is facing a similar privatization threat “which must not be allowed to continue without appropriate legal challenge.”
Last week, Kucinich unveiled a sweeping educational policy program that would strengthen public schools, stop the diversion of billions of tax dollars to private for-profit charter schools and stop political donations from those private businesses to public officials who have any control over education dollars.