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Lorain leaders pleading with Ohio Senate members for more local control of schools after state takeover

Posted at 6:52 AM, Apr 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-03 06:55:40-04

COLUMBUS — The community is fighting back against the Ohio's Academic Distress Commission. Lorain city leaders, Police Chief Cel Rivera and Mayor Chase Ritenauer, testified at the Senate Education Committee meeting on Tuesday. Their testimonies were passionate, claiming the state appointed distress commission has not done what it intended to do for the community.

The two spoke in favor of Senate Bill 110, which would allow more local influence in the Academic Distress Commission, more specifically, Mayor Ritenauer. Right now, the commission is headed by state- appointed C.E.O David Hardy.

In Chief Rivera's testimony he said what has occurred as a result of House Bill 70 is devastating to the district.

He said the community was ready and excited to make the district better, but was taken aback by the decisions the Academic Distress Commission has made. He called out the authoritarian leadership style, the lack of transparency, the confrontational approach to elected officials, and the secretiveness surrounding financial expenditures.

Chief Rivera claimed it would take years for the damage of the state takeover to be fixed.

"[It] created a culture of fear, threatening the livelihoods of anyone who criticizes or disagrees," said Rivera. "It is tearing at the fabric of this, previously, tight knit community, especially within the African American community, and I believe the ultimate outcome will be shattered relationships for years to come."

Mayor Ritenauer echoed his sentiments. He said he doesn't believe SB 110 is perfect, but that it's a fix that needs to happen as soon as possible.

RELATED: Northeast Ohio lawmakers, educators work to overhaul state school funding