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Lorain school board member explains altered view on CEO

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LORAIN — A school board member who recently reversed her opinion on the leadership of the Lorain school district CEO said it’s because she’s done her homework.

Yvonne Johnson, the newest member of the Board of Education elected last November, initially voted for a resolution Monday night saying the body had no confidence in CEO David Hardy, but she said she changed her mind after doing research later in the week.

“I read all of the information I should have when I started,” she said. “I talked to the treasurer to see what was being spent and I also read into what Mr. Hardy’s doing for the district turnaround. I was too hasty.”

Members of the board have expressed concerns recently about a lack of transparency from Hardy about district finances, saying the deficiency of information could keep the board from doing its one job — putting a levy on the ballot.

By the end of 2019, a renewal levy that generates about $3.1 million for the district will expire. The district has three chances to get it passed — November, May 2019 and November 2019.

But at a Wednesday night meeting of the district’s Academic Distress Commission, the state-appointed body that selected Hardy as CEO and the only entity in the state takeover process outlined in state House Bill 70 that can hold him accountable, Johnson said she had all the information she needs to make a decision about the levy and never had any doubts about Hardy.

“When you’re new like I am, if the rest of the board is voting one way but you feel another, you’re full of anxiety,” she said. “I think this entire thing is a two-prong approach. We can work on fighting (House Bill 70) while still looking at the work the CEO is doing and seeing positive things.”

At a community meeting in Youngstown earlier this month, Johnson expressed an interest in pushing back against the bill after hearing members of that community speak out against it.

“(Lorain school board president Tony Dimacchia) has tried to pour all of this into my mind,” she said at the time. “I’m thankful for everything everyone said and all of this information because I know two things I’m going to do now is organize and fight.”

Youngstown is the only other school district to have been taken over by the state under the provisions of the bill.

“There’s a way to keep them separate,” she said. “We can be very investigative about how money is being spent in the district and look at the academic strides Mr. Hardy’s making while still going down to Columbus and fighting the law.”

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or knix@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @KatieHNix.



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