Extra: Plunderbund Releases More E-mails Confirming Kasich-Ross Role in Youngstown Plan

Ohio’s Plunderbund blog continues to investigate the active involvement of Governor John Kasich and his staff along with the direct involvement of State Superintendent Richard Ross in the nine month negotiations for the state takeover of the Youngstown schools and in the future any district with three years’ of “F”ratings from the state. Plunderbund is examining a long-sought e-mail record to trace the involvement of the state superintendent and the governor, who have claimed for months that Youngstown’s leaders came to them demanding the state’s deeper involvement in running the local schools.  The e-mail record Plunderbund is publishing demonstrates that Kasich and Ross instead came up with the idea and led the planning.

The idea, modeled on what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, was to create in Youngstown an “achievement district” and to turn over particular schools or the entire district to a charter management company, thereby seizing the schools from the control of the elected local school board.  Youngstown’s public schools, in the the heart of Ohio’s rust belt, serve a population of extremely poor students.

Beth Hansen, Kasich’s chief of staff at the time, was involved in the planning.  Her husband, David Hansen, later fired from his job overseeing Ohio’s charter schools at the Ohio Department of Education due to his design of a charter school evaluation plan that favored Ohio’s notorious e-schools and “dropout recovery” charters, wrote the federal charter school grant proposal, later funded by the U.S. Department of Education, to underwrite the Youngstown takeover.


Extra: Ohio Governor Kasich and State Supt. Ross Led Planning for Youngstown Takeover

Ah… it is just as we suspected.  Ohio Governor John Kasich, State School Superintendent Dick Ross, and then-Kasich chief of staff Beth Hansen were involved from the start in plotting the Youngstown school takeover—and the takeover in future of any other school districts posting very low state ratings for three years.  Hansen left the Kasich administration this fall to manage his campaign for President.

Ross and Kasich have continued to claim that Youngstown leaders came to them for help, but yesterday afternoon Plunderbund, the Columbus blog, released e-mails that confirm the involvement of Kasich and Ross beginning in September, 2014, nine months before the plan was sprung on the legislature as a 66 page amendment to a bill for expanding collaborative, wraparound schools in Ohio, the kind of schools that have medical clinics and social services housed in the school.  No opponent testimony was permitted on the amendment. The bill was fast-tracked in one afternoon and signed immediately by Governor Kasich.

You may remember that David Hansen, Beth’s husband, who was employed by the Ohio Department of Education as head of its charter school division, was at that time writing a proposal for charter school funding from the U.S. Department of Education.  Buried in David Hansen’s proposal was funding for the very Youngstown takeover his wife had been involved in designing.  David Hansen was fired very soon after writing that proposal when it was exposed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer that his proposed rating system for charter school authorizers had left out any mention of the notoriously low performance of Ohio’s huge e-schools.

Patrick O’Donnell, the Plain Dealer‘s education reporter has been seeking e-mail records through a FOI request to learn whether Kasich, Ross, and Beth Hansen were involved in the secret planning for the Youngstown takeover.  It is fascinating that the records were finally released this weekend just before Christmas when their publication is less likely to be noticed.

Diane Ravitch comments on the release of the e-mails here.