On Tuesday Ohio House Republicans introduced a substitute budget bill that included a provision specifically aimed at allowing a state takeover of the Columbus City Schools.   The amendment, HC1622-1, “Allows the Superintendent of Public Instruction to create an academic distress commission for any district found by the State Auditor to have knowingly manipulated student data with the intent to deceive.”

Steve Dyer describes it this way:

So let me get this straight. If you manipulated data, you will be assumed to have been in Academic Emergency (an F on the state report card) for several years. And as punishment, we’re going to have the guy responsible for creating the most inequitable school funding system in Ohio history run your district? What a great idea. I’m sure it will work just fine.

Dyer is, of course, referring to Dick Ross, Kasich’s former education adviser and the man responsible for Kasich’s failed school funding formula.  Ross replaced Stan Heffner, who left his job as Superintendent after a Plunderbund article and ethics complaint turned into a full-blown scandal.

According to the Dispatch,  Republican state reps Cheryl Grossman and Gerald Stebelton introduced the amendment that would allow for the creation of a distress commission with the power to “appoint, reassign or fire any district administrator without a public hearing; privatize school or management operations; control the budget and all spending; and veto as ‘not enforceable’ any union-contract provision that gets in the way of the district’s effectiveness or overall mission.”

Mayor Coleman claims he didn’t know about the amendment, but Alex Fischer, president of the Columbus Partnership and member of the Coleman’s Columbus Education Commission, admitted to the Dispatch that he’d heard about the amendment and he considers it “consistent with … good-governance concerns.”

In response, Robocalls went out yesterday from the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) warning that this budget provision “will strip local control of school districts ” and “hand control over to corporate outsiders”

The message directs listeners to www.noschooltakeover.com.

The audio of the call is here: