Latest Update September 21, 2023

THE LATEST: Following an emergency hearing, judge issues an order maintaining the status quo of public education in Ohio.

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.

Seven members of the State Board of Education 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. 

Seven members of the 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.  

Following an emergency hearing, the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas issued an order to temporarily stop the education takeover until at least October 2. 

This order provides immediate relief for the school board members and means the status quo will be preserved until a preliminary injunction hearing on October 2 to hear more in-depth arguments from both parties and giving the court a chance to rule ahead of HB33’s effective date of October 3.