New CEO Takes Over Lorain Schools
Lorain City Schools has a new CEO. After three years of failing grades on its state report card, Lorain schools will have a Chief Executive Officer with the powers of a superintendent and school board.
By a vote of 4 to 1, the Lorain Academic Distress Commission on Monday evening chose David Hardy, Jr. to lead the district out of academic distress. Hardy was Deputy Superintendent of Saint Louis Public Schools and spent three years helping to turn around the district’s academic performance after a decade under state control.
Following the vote, Hardy listened to some two dozen comments before a crowd of more than a hundred community members, including Bobby Sergent, a graduate of Lorain schools (class of ’87).
“We have kids in this district that have the potential to be the best in the world,” Sergent said. “But what are we all going to do to get us out of academic distress? And yes it is about these test scores. And I don’t want to see this district broken up and be made into charter school buildings.”
But before charting the way out of academic distress, the new CEO David Hardy said he’ll work to figure out what’s getting in the way of Lorain students’ success.
“I see test scores. I see the number of kids who are going off and being college and career ready and the numbers are small. We’re in the single digits of kids that are really on that path,” Hardy said. “And for us to get to a path where more of our kids are on that path, we have to sit down and really understand the why before we figure out the what and the how we’re going to do it.”
As part of the state law that allows a CEO to run the school district, Lorain now has 30 days to get community input and another 60 days to create an academic improvement plan.
“We were looking for a turnaround leader. A transformative educator,” said Tony Richardson, Chair of the Lorain Academic Distress Commission which -- by state law -- had 60 days to hire a CEO. Hardy was one of five finalists selected by a private educator search firm.
“He has the background, the passion, and he cares about students. He puts students first and he’s just a great guy, a great character – a servant leader and I think that stood out and was very clear during his interview,” said Richardson.
Richardson and Hardy said their next step is to meet with teachers, students and community members.
“Tonight I heard a lot about early childhood education. I heard concerns around teachers and the things that teachers need to be successful,” Hardy said. “I heard a lot about what we need to do differently for kids as well so I want to set up some focus groups and time with folks to talk about those issues and get to the bottom of what is really causing those issues.”
Under House Bill 70 (HB70) which passed the state legislature in 2015, the CEO has “complete operational, managerial and instructional control of the district.”
Lorain will have to raise its report card grade from an F to a C for two consecutive years to transition back to public control of its schools.
Lorain follows Youngstown schools as the second district in Ohio to be taken over by a CEO under the terms of HB70.