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Two finalists chosen as a Black or Hispanic man is poised to lead Cleveland's public schools....Mayor Bibb and community panels that include teachers and parents will help the appointed school board in selecting the finalist. Is this legal?

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By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor, associate publisher
CLEVELAND, Ohio-A Black man or a Hispanic man is poised to replace outgoing CEO Eric Gordon to lead Cleveland's largely Black 33,000 pupil public school district and for the first time in school district history the city's mayor, who controls the city's schools under state law, will directly screen the finalists, both of whom hold an earned doctorate like Gordon. It will also be the first time in more than a decade and a half that a minority man has led Cleveland schools.

 

Warren Morgan, who is Black, and Ricardo “Rocky” Torres, a Hispanic man, will be interviewed for the top position in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District on April 24 and 25 by Mayor Justin M. Bibb and by eight community panels that will include teachers, staff, parents, students, community partners and union and district leadership. Both of the finalists slated to be interviewed next week for the CEO position are credentialed.

 

A former CMSD administrator and student services assistant superintendent for Seattle Public Schools, Torres holds a Ph.D. in urban education from Cleveland State University. Also a former Cleveland schools administrator, Morgan, who is currently the chief academic officer for Indianapolis Public Schools and a former White House fellow under presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, has an E.d D. from the University of Illinois-Chicago

 

Whether the selection process for the schools CEO is legal in terms of  the mayor and eight panels usurping the role of a duly appointed board of education to help it choose the finalist remains to be seen.

 

While it sounds community oriented, it has legal implications, and people are now questioning how such panels came about, and why it was necessary to usurp the authority of the board of education, a nine-member largely White school board that consists of some suburbanites and corporate-types and is led by board president Anne E. Bingham, a  White woman who is vice president of First Federal Bank Lakewood. Others say that Bibb, 35 and Cleveland's fourth Black mayor, is a progressive mayor who has latitude under state law to craft his own rules for the selection of a CEO, within reason. They say  that it is time for a change, no matter how it comes about, a change that includes White folks no longer running a largely Black public school district in a majority Black major American city while Blacks are simultaneously subordinated.

 

Under Bibb's predecessor, former mayor Frank Jackson, the city's third Black mayor and its longest serving mayor, the school district's central office administrators have become increasingly White over the years, particularly during Jackson's last two terms.  In fact,  a former elected Cleveland school board member referred to central office employees and administrators in the district as "nearly lily White and collectively un-certified and unqualified to be over Black children."

 

Cleveland schools are under mayoral control per a state law that took effect in 1998 when Mike White, the city's second Black mayor, was mayor and the school district and the state of Ohio were released from the longstanding Cleveland schools desegregation case, a case officially titled Reed v Rhodes. Such law, which was sponsored by Republican state lawmakers, eliminated an elected school board and gave the city mayor the power to appoint school board members. Cleveland voters, via a ballot referendum, later sanctioned the mayoral control law (House Bill 269)  at the ballot box following a cleverly crafted referendum campaign pushed by district officials  and then mayor Jane Campbell, the city's first female mayor, and a White woman. Campbell lost reelection to the popular Jackson, then a city council president embraced by Black leaders and Black  clergy, and obviously Black voters who helped to keep him in office for four terms until he chose to retire in 2021.

 

How Mayor Bibb, who took office in January of 2022, became personally embroiled in the selection process for the school district's next CEO to replace the likable Eric Gordon, who is White and credentialed, is intriguing, sources have said. Also at issue are community panels that may or may not have authority under the law to choose the next CEO since they are, by design, composed of teachers, parents and staff members, a possible conflict of interest. This is coupled with the fact that it is the role of the board of education to hire a superintendent, or if the public school district like Cleveland's is under mayor control, a superintendent or a CEO. (Editor's note: Under the state law for mayoral control in Ohio the CEO does not have to be a certified superintendent, which is why the position is dubbed "CEO" and not "superintendent," and top level administrators at central office also do not have to be certified. This setup is unlike all other public school districts in Ohio, a scenario questioned as perpetuating a double standard in terms of qualified school district personnel or the lack thereof serving in impoverished largely Black public school districts that are more likely to be under mayoral control as compared to affluent predominately White school districts. However, CMSD principals and assistant principals, like teachers, must be certified pursuant to the mayoral control law ).

 

This is a continuing story per an ongoing investigation by Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com, the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: editor@clevelandurbannews.com. We interviewed former president Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview, CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS.


 

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Last Updated on Monday, 24 April 2023 22:08

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