NAACP says Hathorn’s departure won’t turn Youngstown district around

Connie Hathorn

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – In several weeks, there will be a change in leadership for the Youngstown City School District as superintendent Dr. Connie Hathorn has accepted a position in Arkansas.

It is a push the local chapter of the NAACP had been working toward, but now they are not sure if the grass will really be greener on the other side. As a way to spark conversation, the NAACP and the Youngstown teacher’s union held a symposium Tuesday evening to get ideas to turn the school district around.

“Dramatic change needs to take place,” NAACP leader Jimma McWilson said.

For several years, Youngstown City Schools have placed near the bottom on test scores statewide. An academic distress commission was brought in and new faces have joined the Board of Education. But the numbers have not moved that much.

McWilson said that even though Hathorn is leaving the district, major changes are still unlikely.

“Not unless the adults who are supposed to do their job, do their job,” he said.

McWilson said a large part of it has to do with the Board of Education.

“The board is out of control. They are not on target. They don’t have a plan,” McWilson said.

Board member Jackie Adair was at Tuesday night’s meeting. She agreed in saying the board is disjointed.

“We have a systemic problem. It was not just him. It is systemic. It is the community, it is the school board,” Adair said.

She went on to say the superintendent and his staff are just as responsible. Adair said things need to turn around to make a better future for students.

“We have not moved. Our children are dying on the vine, if you will. And I consider that a criminal act,” Adair said.

Cossell Burton, who is a grandparent, was at Tuesday’s meeting. She said there is still a lot of good in the school district.

“When the community comes together and the parents come together and we exchange ideas and they connect, the kids are going to feel it,” Burton said.

Earlier in the day, future teachers from across the region were at Choffin Career and Technical Center for a Youngstown City School District job fair. More than 130 people were interviewing for 34 teacher, faculty and staff openings.

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Karen Green said it shows teachers are wanting to come in and make a positive impact on students’ lives.

“It is exciting that people are excited about coming to Youngstown City Schools and that makes me happy,” Green said.

Candidates who make it through the first round will be contacted for a second interview in the next couple of weeks. The district hopes to have the positions filled by the beginning of summer.

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