Judge Extends Injunction On Ohio’s K–12 Education Reform

Judge Extends Injunction On Ohio's K–12 Education Reform | Future Education Magazine


Ohio’s public education system’s future was in jeopardy. Wednesday, following the judge’s second extension of an injunction barring the state from implementing a GOP-backed change that a group of parents has contested as unconstitutional.

The latest move in a legal chess game has Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s office scrambling to figure out how to maintain a functioning educational system for 1.6 million students, even if it means defying that temporary restraining order, which Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Karen Held Phipps extended until Oct. 20.

As part of a comprehensive K-12 reorganisation included in the state budget back in July, the Ohio Department of Education—which was governed by an independent state school board—was changing its name to the Department of Education and Workforce, which is under the governor’s direct control, on Tuesday. According to a complaint that was only recently filed, the new system that Republican lawmakers constructed violates the constitution on several different levels.

It would primarily deprive the state board, which was established by the constitution and is chosen by citizens, of its authority to establish academic standards and school curriculum. The plaintiffs contend that this would be against the purpose of a 1953 constitutional amendment that established the state board and gave citizens more influence over their children’s education than the governor.

The reform “is a prime example of the broader movement by extremist-controlled governors’ mansions and legislatures to deprive communities of meaningful representation,” according to Skye Perryman, president and chief executive of Democracy Forward, a national legal services nonprofit that is representing the plaintiffs.

The state and DeWine were prohibited from “enforcing, implementing, (and) complying with”) the statute by the initial order, which Phipps issued on Sept. 21. That entails “creating” a new education department and appointing a director to assume the majority of the duties of the state board.

Despite the directive, DeWine followed the advise of his lawyers and started some of the renovations on Tuesday. The governor claimed that just a portion of the comprehensive law implementing the transformation is covered by the judge’s ruling.

At a news conference on Monday, the governor claimed that because the Ohio Department of Education was abolished at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, the new department had to go into force at midnight on Tuesday in accordance with state law. He said that since the budget he signed into law in July established the Oct. 3 effective date, no “affirmative action” on his part was required to “create” the department.

Latest developments, what’s next in legal battle over Ohio’s K-12 education overhaul

According to DeWine, if there is no progress, the state will be unable to perform essential tasks such as approving state-funded private school vouchers, writing checks for schools, teachers, and transportation employees.

DeWine clarified that he won’t be selecting a new director or giving the agency the state board’s authority. Chris Woolard, the state’s current acting interim superintendent of public instruction, will oversee the phased rollout.

“Go ahead and file a lawsuit claiming that he cannot lead, if you so choose. DeWine stated in the news conference, “All you’re doing is pulling a leader away from the agency that is meant to help our kids.

Even if what DeWine claims is true, the plaintiffs said in a move to clarify the temporary restraining order that his compliance with the new department’s existence violates the court order.

Instead of this “blatant violation,” Perryman claimed that if DeWine had been genuinely concerned about funding for Ohio schools, he would have cooperated with the court to amend the order.

Also Read: Despite A Court Injunction, A Portion Of Ohio’s GOP-Backed K–12 Education Reform Will Go Into Force

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