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Lorain school board sets emergency meeting over CEO hire

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Katie Nix

The Chronicle-Telegram

LORAIN — The Lorain school board called an emergency meeting for Monday to dispute the way David Hardy, the district’s new CEO, was hired.

According to a notice sent out Friday afternoon, the meeting is “for the purpose of supporting a public records request, and to challenge the legality of the process of hiring the CEO.”

Tony Dimacchia, school board president, said the board needs to do what’s best for the students, and he doesn’t believe this search process falls into that category.

“We as a Board of Education feel that we should address the current situation and the request for records from the state and commission,” Dimacchia said Friday. “It is important to make sure that the community knows that, collectively as a group, the majority of the board is unified in our efforts to assure our students the highest quality of leadership and education.”

Dimacchia has filed two public records requests in relation to the search.

Hardy, deputy superintendent for St. Louis Schools, was selected as the CEO last month by the Academic Distress Commission despite members of the community, including Dimacchia, expressing concerns about the search’s lack of transparency.

Four of the five finalists selected by Atlantic Research Partners, the firm hired to search for CEO candidates and narrow the 37-person applicant pool to the finalists, had ties to the firm, including Hardy. In 2016, Hardy completed the National Superintendents Academy, a program for school leaders owned and operated by Atlantic Research Partners.

Atlantic Research Partners refused to release the names of the 32 candidates who were not named finalists. Those names are among the things Dimacchia is seeking with his public records requests.

Lorain Schools Superintendent Jeff Graham and Diane Conibear-Xander, a former principal at Admiral King High School and Lorain High School, have said they applied for the position.

Lorain Schools has a CEO because failing test scores and poor state report card grades caused it to be classified by the state as under academic distress in 2013.

State House Bill 70, passed in 2015, says that if a district is in academic distress and under the supervision of an academic distress commission for four years, the old commission will be disbanded and a new one will be appointed to hire a CEO.

The CEO is expected to have all of the power of a superintendent as well as most of the power given to a school board with the exception of the right to put levies or bond issues on the ballot.

After two years in power, the CEO also can take “failing” buildings and turn them into charter schools.

The meeting will be 5 p.m. in the Lorain High School’s Building A Media Center at 2600 Ashland Ave.

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129

or knix@chroniclet.com.

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