State control of schools looms in East Cleveland

Posted at 5:35 PM, Oct 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-15 17:35:35-04

Concerned voices grew louder Monday as the State moves forward with plans to takeover the East Cleveland School District.

The state superintendent announced his three picks for the five-person panel Friday. Not one person lives or works in the city. 



The Mayor of East Cleveland appointed the fourth member of the five-member committee, his executive assistant Belinda King. 

Paul Hill, a social worker, activist, civic leader and author, with more than 30 years experience in Cleveland Youth and Family Services, teaching, and work with the U.S. Justice and Education departments, spoke out Monday. 

Hill has called East Cleveland home for more than 40 years. His seven children graduated from East Cleveland schools. 

"As far as I'm concerned? The state takeover plan should be deemed unconstitutional," Hill said.

Hill is voicing those concerns to folks at the city, county and state level asking for a resolution to calling for changes with report cards and a stay on the state takeover. 

"To bring whatever pressure we can to put a stay on the decision itself," he said, "The state, especially the department of education, needs to get its own house in order before they make, to me, what are class-driven and race driven policy decisions that aren't in the best interest of school districts and communities."

News 5 been tracking and investigating the state's plans to take over East Cleveland Public Schools for weeks now.

RELATED: Ohio education coalition says local schools need resources, not state takeover

As we've reported - since 2015, three consecutive failed report cards mean, by law, a district is subject to a takeover by the state through an Academic Distress Commission appointed by the state superintendent. 

That's what East Cleveland is grappling with right now. 

News 5 has exposed errors, inconsistencies and numbers from last year included in East Cleveland's recent report card.

RELATED: Errors, inaccuracies revealed in state's school report card for East Cleveland

With both districts under state control also failing recent report cards, the state is currently studying whether these takeovers are even working while continuing to takeover schools. 

RELATED: Are Ohio school takeovers effective? If we don't know, why are they continuing?

With four of the five-member academic distress commission appointed, the wheels continue to turn.

"They don't know anything about East Cleveland. They're not from the community," Hill said, about the three members appointed by the state superintendent. 

After taking these concerns to the district, the Ohio Department of Education and our local legislators, the only thing standing between an economically disadvantaged school district, that's made strides, and total state control is the pending lawsuit in Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court. 

With a hearing set for the end of November. 

RELATED: East Cleveland schools fight state takeover

"What this is coming down is taxation without representation, where the takeover will result in displacing the superintendent as well as the elected board of education," Hill said. 

A spokesperson with the Ohio Department of Education addressed what’s next for the district.

"Superintendent DeMaria’s appointments are confirmed. The Department also has been notified that the Mayor appointed Belinda Kyle to the academic distress commission. The Department has been notified that East Cleveland City School District Board President Dr. Una H.R. Keenon has selected Karen Winston-Carpenter to serve on the commission.

The next step is for Superintendent DeMaria to name a chairperson for the ADC. Once he does that, the commission will have the 60 days to hire the CEO of the district."