LORAIN — A member of the Lorain High School administrative staff is certified only to be a substitute teacher by the state.
According to Ohio Department of Education records, Brian Hairston has been credentialed as a long-term substitute teacher for social studies in grades four through nine since 2005, but he currently serves as the 10th grade academy director at Lorain High School.
When asked about Hairston, district CEO David Hardy said, “Brian has been a principal. Not sure where you are getting that info.”
He offered to supply The Chronicle-Telegram with Hairston’s resume, which did show he had been a principal at West Preparatory School in Cleveland and Beacon Academy in Columbus, both charter schools through the Educational Empowerment Group.
Hairston also served as a principal at Akron Preparatory School and as the dean of student life and management at the University of Cleveland Preparatory School, both part of the I CAN schools network, also charters.
Lorain Schools Chief Equity and Achievement Officer Kenan Bishop, who was listed as a reference on Hairston’s resume, also came from that charter school network.
Robin Hopkins, who became Lorain High School’s building principal in 2016, was a finalist to be an administrator in the building under Hardy’s new leadership structure in the spring but she ultimately did not receive a position. She’s now the principal at South High School in Willoughby.
According to state records, Hopkins is a certified principal for grades five to 12 and also has a superintendent’s license.
Hardy said he had “no comment on this story” beyond what he offered and Hairston did not return a request for comment.
School board president Tony Dimacchia, a frequent critic of Hardy, said he wasn’t surprised by Hairston’s lack of credentials.
“This is the charter way of thinking and this CEO is on a mission to make Lorain a charter,” he said.
State House Bill 70, the legislation that established an academic distress commission to appoint and oversee Hardy after years of poor academic performance by the district, outlines a process in which in the third year of his tenure, Hardy can take “failing” buildings and either close them and turn them into charter schools.
Hardy has said on numerous occasions that is not part of his plan for the district, but Dimacchia has said he doesn’t believe the CEO.
In the past month, Hardy has also come under fire for how the employment status of several former building principals was handled. With their positions being eliminated, Hardy had promised them teaching positions, which weren’t offered initially.
Hardy blamed it on miscommunication — saying they had jobs with the district — but insurance documents obtained by The Chronicle indicated that the administrators’ health care coverage had been stopped and the employees had been “laid off” effective Aug. 1, a decision that was reversed two weeks later.
One of the administrators as well as five other teachers were placed in an unassigned pool and are being used as building substitutes, something Dimacchia doesn’t agree with if one of the high school administrators is not certified.
“At what point in time will this guy be held accountable?” he said. “At what point in time will this commission will be held accountable? I feel for the students, staff and parents. We deserve better than a very poor and unsuccessful political agenda.”
Academic Distress Commission Chairman Tony Richardson did not respond to a request for comment.