Latest Update November 3, 2023

THE LATEST: Plaintiffs file objections to the magistrate judge's decision denying our motion for a preliminary injunction.

On November 3, on behalf of parents and the Toledo School Board, we filed an objection to the magistrate judge’s decision denying our motion for a preliminary injunction. We argue that the magistrate judge’s opinion was in error and that a preliminary injunction on the Education Takeover Rider should be issued.

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Governor Mike DeWine and his allies in the Ohio legislature are attempting an anti-democratic takeover of education in Ohio.

For decades, parents in Ohio have gone to the voting booth to exercise their right to elect representatives empowered to advocate for them at the state level. Now, the Governor and legislature have tried to take away that power. In the last moments of this year’s legislative session, Ohio legislators snuck into the state’s budget bill, HB 33, sweeping provisions that restructure Ohio’s system of education governance and oversight – in violation of the Ohio Constitution. 

HB 33’s Education Takeover Rider will result in a public education system in Ohio that is no longer responsive to the needs of everyday people, but rather the desires and whims of the Governor and the special interests that have quick access to the governor’s office. This brazen power-grab flies in the face of Ohio residents who value local input and control over their children’s education.

Parents and the Toledo School Board have sued the Governor and the State to put a stop to this unconstitutional power grab.  

In Ohio, the people —  not legislators — decide whether the core responsibility of education governance should remain with the State Board of Education (the Board) or be transferred back to the governor’s office. 

Ohio parents and the Toledo School Board, represented by Democracy Forward and Ulmer & Berne LLP, filed this lawsuit against the Governor of Ohio and the State of Ohio to stop the changes outlined in the Education Takeover Rider from going into effect.

The Ohio Constitution contains various safeguards to ensure that the legislative process is democratic – including forbidding any single bill from addressing more than one subject so legislators can’t sneak unpopular pieces of legislation into unrelated bills that are more likely to pass. The Education Takeover Rider blatantly defies this constitutional protection. Even though it has almost no impact on the budget, anti-democratic actors rammed the Education Takeover Rider through at the last moment to ensure it would pass, despite not having the votes to do so on its own. 

The trend of anti-democratic attacks on public education in states across the country – from Florida to Ohio – is a key tactic in the extremist playbook to undermine our democracy and public education at any cost, including breaking the law.  

On October 2, 2023, the court held a hearing on our preliminary injunction motion. 

The hearing offered an opportunity to further shed light on the potential harms to parents, children, school officials, and their communities if the challenged law stripping the Board of its duties were to go into effect. 

After the hearing, the judge extended the temporary restraining order stopping the law from going into effect until October 20. 

Immediately following the hearing, Governor DeWine announced that he still intended to move forward immediately with elements of the education takeover, despite the temporary restraining order. So, we filed an emergency motion to clarify the terms of the court’s temporary restraining order. 

Minutes after the October 2 hearing concluded,Governor DeWine held a press conference where he announced the state’s plans to move forward in implementing parts of the new law. There have also been reports across the state that suggest the Governor is playing politics with the education system in Ohio in an attempt to vilify the parents who brought this suit. 

Although the Governor claimed he was trying to avoid confusion and chaos, he has instead caused it. Through a ‘motion to clarify’ filing, parents and the school board asked for a hearing to ensure that the governor sticks to the status quo instead of trying to bolster his power grab by sowing confusion among parents and educators. We still await the court’s response. 

On October 16, 2023, on behalf of parents and the Toledo School Board, we filed a post-hearing brief to make clear that they have standing to sue, and that the Education Takeover Rider– and the way it was passed– are unconstitutional. 

The brief also explains why the Court needs to enjoin the full Education Takeover Rider in order to prevent the Governor from trying to carve out loopholes that let him disrupt the education system while this case proceeds. 

On October 20, 2023, a magistrate judge issued an interim decision on our request for a preliminary injunction to stop Gov. DeWine’s anti-democratic education takeover from going into effect. 

This decision, which is not final and will be reviewed by Judge Phipps, denied our request for a preliminary injunction. 

Also on October 20, an interim order was issued by Judge Frye dissolving the temporary order we won to stop Gov. DeWine’s education takeover from going into effect.

The order issued by Judge Frye is an interim order, to set into effect the decision issued by a magistrate judge. That interim order denies the requested preliminary injunction and immediately dissolves the temporary restraining order. Thus, the Government can proceed with implementing the takeover rider. As the interim order makes clear, plaintiffs have the right to object within 14 days under Ohio law. At that point, the court would be obligated to consider those objections and then issue a ruling. 

On November 3, we filed an objection to the magistrate judge’s decision denying our motion for a preliminary injunction. 

In our objection, we argue on behalf of the plaintiffs that the magistrate judge’s opinion was in error and that a preliminary injunction on the Education Takeover Rider should be issued. We await a final decision from Judge Phipps.