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Lorain CEO says students speaking out are being used for 'political gain'

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LORAIN —Lorain Schools’ CEO said students speaking on behalf of teachers were being used for “political gain.”

In an email obtained via records request and shared with The Chronicle-Telegram, CEO David Hardy warned the state-appointed members of the distress commission about possible “hot topics” that could come up ahead of its March 19 meeting. Those topics include students speaking on behalf of teachers.

He wrote, “I would not be surprised if scholars speak on behalf of teachers. My hunch is that it will (be) in favor of teachers in our (College Credit Plus) classrooms, the scholars who have spoken up in the past are in the CCP program and do have good teachers for the most part and/or have parents who are teachers. It saddens me that children may be used for political gain.”

His email was sent to chairman Randall Sampson and members Michele Soliz and Patricia O’Brien. He sent the email in part, he wrote, because, “I want to make sure you are always aware of something or someone trying to grab attention away from the true challenge of educating kids.”

Several students did speak up at the ADC meeting. Of those, juniors Murphy White and Ryan Williams, and now-graduate Liana Torres disputed the CEO’s claim that they were used for “political gain” when recently asked.

Each student defended their teachers at the meeting, and were critical of the district’s leadership.

Torres said she was inspired to speak at that meeting and another Board of Education meeting after watching her classmates cry because of what the CEO has said about the district’s faculty.

“I do not know how Mr. CEO can even try to say that us speaking on behalf of our teachers was used for political gain when the students were showing true emotions,” she said. “They were laying it all out on the table. I have no family relations to any of the staff at our school, but I do look at them like family members. … The students and faculty of Lorain High have a family-like bond. And nobody could break that bond, not even the ‘CEO.’ I was not pushed to go up and speak. ... Lorain High is my second home, and I hate seeing it crumble down due to an outsider who thinks he understands our point of view when he clearly doesn’t.”

White, who is a member of the student-run Titan Nation Times with Williams, said he doesn’t belong to CCP and his parents aren’t teachers.

“I spoke of my own accord. I wrote my own speech,” he said, of what he read at the ADC meeting. “I heard … someone had said that (they) thought a staff member wrote it for me. I doubt an administrator would claim someone else wrote my speech for me, but the way things have gone this year I honestly can’t be too sure.”

Williams echoed similar sentiments.

“Students as a means of political gain? My answer to that is that it isn’t simple ignorance coming from the CEO, but an intended attack at the integrity and perseverance of the very students he promised to promote.”

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.


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