The Ohio Supreme Court recently upheld a law that changed how the state intervenes with schools that consistently perform poorly. The court ruled on Wednesday in favor of the constitutionality of a law that shifts the operational control of a poorly-performing school from the elected school board to unelected CEOs hired by state-appointed academic distress commissions.
Youngstown, Ohio, argued that the law stripped school boards of its power, according to AP News. The court said the school boards are currently set up in a way that does not require school board to receive any specific power.
The town and its school board also argued that the law was unconstitutional because it did not meet the requirements for legislative consideration. Changes to the bill were pushed through in one day in 2015, a move that Youngstown said violated a “Three Reading Rule.”
The court ultimately agreed with the state, saying that the bill was not “vitally altered” and was always about improving underperforming schools
“The versions of H.B. 70 as introduced and as enacted had a common purpose of seeking to improve underperforming schools, even though there are differences in the tools through which each version pursued that goal,” the court said in its decision. “…Accordingly, we hold that the amended bill continued to relate to the creation of new methods for attempting to improve underperforming schools and thus that the amendments did not vitally alter H.B. 70, despite the addition of significant substantive language to the bill.”
Two of the six justices on the court dissented — Justices Michael Donnelly and Melody Stewart.
“For all the talk about academic distress, it is sadly our constitutional form of government that is in distress by this decision,” Donnelly said in his opinion. “The state legislature could honor our Constitution simply by applying its legislative requirements as they are written. It failed. Likewise, this court could honor our Constitution simply by applying its terms as they are written. It too has failed.”
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