Youngstown board member: East High has been “in chaos” for years

Youngstown education forum

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A meeting to discuss challenges at the Youngstown City School District was dominated by conversations about the fight at East High School earlier this week, which led to a large police presence and charges being filed.

The meeting, held at Mount Gilead Baptist Church, was scheduled prior to Tuesday’s fight. Hosted by the Buckeye Review, the Education Solutions community meeting was led by Dr. Mike McNair, publisher of the Review. Panelists included former Youngstown City Schools Superintendent Benjamin McGee, Youngstown State University Research Economist Jacqueline Taylor and former School Board member Tracey Winbush.

The 30-some people in attendance at Thursday’s meeting said they were proud of many of the district’s accomplishments, but many expressed real concerns about the problems at East High.

“You can’t learn or teach in a chaotic situation. That building has been in chaos for, I don’t know, five, six, seven years,” said Youngstown City School Board member Jacqueline Adair.

Adair said the board has failed miserably in its oversight of the district.

“I’m not pleased with how we have performed, or not performed,” she said,

Tracey Winbush, a former School Board member, criticized current board members, saying most have not read the policies that are in place in the school district. She said the teachers at East High School send too many students to the office, instead of handling discipline themselves.

“They feel they are impotent in the classroom, when it comes to taking over,” she said.

The main speaker was Dr. Benjamin McGee, a former Youngstown City Schools superintendent who says the problems at East High are complex. He added that there isn’t a simple solution.

“You can be saved when you have the right personnel, the right equipment, the right conditions,” he said.

The process of naming a CEO to run Youngstown City Schools in on hold while the school board fights a court’s decision on its appointment to the Academic Distress Commission, formed to choose the CEO. Winbush suggested that Dr. McGee should be the district’s new CEO.

Dr. McGee said he didn’t attend the meeting to discuss that, or to criticize the current leaders.

“There are pockets of excellence. The challenge is how you scale that,” he said.

Adair said there will be a “Crisis Summit” at East High School on March 24, which will address the specific problems there.

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