LORAIN - A Democratic candidate for governor will be attending the Lorain school board meeting Monday night after the board sent him a letter asking him to help "the elected board deal with an appointed CEO and administration that are unaccountable, secretive and unresponsive to the public."
Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich confirmed he will attend the meeting in a news release Saturday, saying the board's letter noted "this is an urgent matter."
"We as a community have been duped and we need to fight," the letter, which was signed by all five board members, said. "Since the introduction of a CEO, we have seen countless consultants and firms - all of which are operating from out of state - make critical decisions about our children's education and our finances that they, quite frankly, don't have to live with, because they don't live here."
After years of poor state report card scores, the Lorain school district was placed in academic distress. Because of this classification, the district underwent a state takeover last summer where a CEO was brought in to have complete instructional and managerial control of the district, essentially taking on the roles of a superintendent and school board.
The only remaining duty of the school board is the ability to put levy and bond issues on the ballot.
David Hardy was selected to be the CEO of the Lorain district in July in accordance with House Bill 70, the state law that outlines the takeover process.
Since then, the school board has questioned whether or not Hardy is effectively leading the district, citing concerns about its financial status after out-of-state consultants were brought in to do things like public relations at a cost of $40,000 and a financial audit at a cost of $50,000.
The letter said the takeover is an "attack on urban education" and is setting up students to fail.
According to the news release, the board "is asking Kucinich to help because of his experience assisting and advising the Youngstown public school district, where a similar appointed commission and executive leadership are running the school system."
School board President Tony Dimacchia said he hopes Kucinich and other gubernatorial candidates are paying attention to what's happening in Lorain and Youngstown.
"This should be a very important issue on all of their platforms," he said. "I want to extend a special invitation to the Rich Cordray and Betty Sutton campaign, Attorney General Mike DeWine, and all the other candidates. If they can't make this meeting, we would love to set up a meeting with all of them to discuss our concerns about HB 70 and the future of public education."
On Friday, school board member Mark Ballard issued a letter to the community in which he said he had "no confidence in the direction" of the district. In the letter, he encouraged residents who are as angry as he is about the CEO's lack of transparency to attend Monday's meeting.
The board meeting will take place at 5 p.m. Monday in the Media Center at Lorain High School, 2600 Ashland Ave.
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