Mayor To Control Cleveland Schools After Judge Ends State Intervention

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The passing of the torch in Cleveland is imminent: This fall, the beleaguered school district will join the list of large urban school systems--including Boston and Chicago--under mayoral control.

U.S. District Judge George W. White ruled last month that a federal court order that placed the district under state control will be lifted on Sept. 9.

Mayor Michael R. White, along with an appointed nine-member school board and a superintendent of his choosing, will take over the Cleveland schools, returning the district to local control for the first time in nearly 25 years.

"Today is a historic day for Clevelanders," Mayor White, a Democrat, said in a prepared statement following the judge's ruling. "After a quarter of a century of having the educational policy for our children in the hands of the federal court and then the subsequent state supervision, we can now move forward with a school system run by our community for our community."

A federal court ordered the state takeover of the 76,500-student system in 1995 after declaring the school system, which was on its last legs academically and $155 million in debt, in a "state of crisis."

The plan for mayoral control was approved by state lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. George V. Voinovich, a Republican, in August 1997.

Fight Continues

Judge White, no relation to the mayor, who in March declared that the school system had fulfilled its legal obligation to desegregate its schools, failed to rule last month on a request by two groups opposed to the mayor's assumption of authority. Those groups, the Cleveland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Service Employees International Union, which represents school support workers, have asked that schools remain under state control until their appeal is decided. ("Judge Ends Desegregation Case in Cleveland," April 8, 1998.)

Meanwhile, a nominating panel put together by the state is reviewing the applications of about 240 school board hopefuls--many of them prominent community leaders--and will make recommendations to the mayor by Aug. 10. The school board and the mayor's choice for chief executive officer are expected to be named by fall.

Vol. 17, Issue 43, Page 14

Published in Print: August 5, 1998, as Mayor To Control Cleveland Schools After Judge Ends State Intervention
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