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Senate Democrats Issue Statements on Lawsuit Filed Against Overhaul of Board of Education

September 20, 2023
Vernon Sykes News

Today, Senate Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood), Ranking Member of the Senate Education Committee state Senator Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati) and Senate Education Committee member state Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) commented on the lawsuit filed by members of the Ohio State Board of Education challenging the constitutionality of the K-12 education overhaul which passed as part of the state operating budget, House Bill 33.

“This lawsuit is an opportunity to restore the voice of all Ohioans through protecting the duties and powers of their state board of education members,” said Antonio. “I strongly support the filing of this lawsuit which would stop the administration from taking over the Department of Education and would prevent severely limiting the powers of the state board. The enactment of the Department of Education takeover legislation in the budget was a blatant, willful violation of the single-subject rule in Ohio’s Constitution. Once again, the Republicans chose to ignore the clear intent of Ohio voters, who 70 years ago, voted to constitutionally create a State Board of Education with oversight and powers including that of selecting the state superintendent.”

“I applaud the elected State Board of Education members for asking for their voices to be heard and for respect of their rights as elected officials,” said Ingram. “Opposition to Senate Bill 1 was important from the beginning, but we must continue to recognize that the focal point of all we do in this arena should be about educational opportunities for all our children. At the same time, we must protect public education. I’m looking forward to in-depth conversations about the injunction as well as next steps.”

"From the beginning, I have stressed how the sweeping changes made by this bill required more time and debate to truly benefit Ohio students and schools," said Sykes. “Rushing it through as part of the operating budget deprived the public of the opportunity to voice their concerns about the takeover and undermined the legislative process. I believe challenges like this could have been avoided if the legislature gave proper consideration to the spirit of the constitutional provision which established the state Board of Education, and the intention of the voters.”

Senate Bill 1 was a politically motivated takeover of public education, transferring almost all powers of the democratically elected State Board of Education to the Governor and the newly-created Department of Education and Workforce (DEW).

This deeply controversial and complex legislation was passed by the Ohio Senate in March of this year but never received a vote in the Ohio House of Representatives. Instead, over the objections from Senate Democrats, the bill passed in its entirety as part of a last-minute amendment to unrelated legislation, House Bill 33, the state operating budget.