Ohio’s State Board of Education sets new timeline to pick state superintendent

By: - November 15, 2023 4:45 am

COLUMBUS, Ohio — APRIL 20: The Ohio Department of Education in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

Ohio’s State Board of Education hopes to pick a new superintendent by Christmas.  

After pausing their search due to last month’s litigation, the search firm Ray & Associates will reopen their superintendent application search on Wednesday. 

State board of education members voted to approve a new timeline for the superintendent search during Tuesday’s meeting. 

Here is the timeline: 

  • Nov. 15 — Ray & Associates opens search for superintendent applications. 
  • Nov. 26 — deadline for interested candidates to apply.
  • Dec. 5 — Ray & Associates will present their top candidates to the board and the board will pick finalists for candidate interviews. 
  • Dec. 11 — the next state board of education meeting takes place where the top candidates will undergo first round interviews in executive session. The state board of education may vote to appoint a superintendent. 
  • Dec. 18 — The state board of education may have a potential special meeting to interview finalist candidates in executive session. The state board of education may vote to appoint a superintendent. 

Interim State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Woolard has been serving in his role since May 28

Department of Education and Workforce

Tuesday’s meeting was the first State Board of Education meeting under the new Department of Education and Workforce, which puts the department under the governor’s office.

This new law, which went into effect under the state’s two-year budget, reduces the State Board of Education’s power to teacher disciplinary and licensure cases and territory disputes. The state board of education no longer has various administrative powers or control over curriculum standards. 

The changes were noticeable during Tuesday’s meeting. It was only one day instead of the usual two and had a much shorter agenda.

Some members of the state board of education filed a lawsuit to try to prevent those changes from taking place in September, but a Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge denied a preliminary injunction at the end of October that would have stopped the law from going into effect.

Last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine nominated Steve Dackin to be DEW’s director, which is a cabinet-level position. Dackin previously had an ethics investigation during his less than two-week stint as state superintendent last year.

October’s meeting

After a lengthy discussion, the State Board of Education members voted to approve October’s meeting minutes. 

State Board of Education President Paul LaRue has postponed October’s meeting days before it was set to take place, citing the advice of outside counsel. The October board meeting was scheduled to take place while the lawsuit was going on. 

“I was told there were questions about what set of authority we operated under and there was confusion created by the litigation,” LaRue said Tuesday during the board meeting. “I was told that if we took certain actions they could be found invalid.” 

Eleven members of the board met anyway on Oct. 10, but there were no Department of Education employees present at the meeting, it was not live streamed on the Ohio Channel and the agenda was much shorter. 

“In the future, if you (LaRue) are told by somebody to postpone or cancel the meeting, I think you owe the board a detailed explanation,” Board member Meryl Johnson said. “What statute or what law or whatever instead of generic extenuating circumstances.”

During the October meeting, the 11 members compiled a list of 18 questions they sent electronically to board leadership with a deadline later that month. 

Those questions, which ranged from why board leadership skipped the meeting to why the meeting was postponed, went unanswered.

“We have not received any response,” board member Diana Fessler said during Tuesday’s meeting. “Is there any intention of responding?”

LaRue acknowledged he did receive the questions but wasn’t sure how to respond.

“I will endeavor to get you an answer to every question,” he said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on Twitter.



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Megan Henry
Megan Henry

Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the past five years reporting in Ohio on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime. She previously worked at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network.