(The Center Square) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine planned to move ahead Monday afternoon with moving control of the state’s education system from the school board to his office.
In July, DeWine signed the state’s two-year budget, which included legislation to transfer the duties of the majority-elected state board to the new cabinet-level Ohio Department of Education and Workforce.
He named Jessica Voltolini as interim director beginning today after a Franklin County judge dissolved a temporary restraining order that stopped the new department from operating.
“I am thrilled that the restraining order has been dissolved, and we can focus on the important work of moving forward to help our kids be better prepared for life after high school, whether choosing additional training, beginning a career, or heading to college,” DeWine said.
Voltolini previously served at the education department in various roles, including as the director of policy and legislative affairs and assistant legal counsel and most recently as chief of staff.
Seven state board members sued to stop the change, saying the law violates a constitutional provision that laws contain a single subject. A judge late last month agreed and said there was a likelihood the plaintiffs would win on the merits of their claims, issuing the temporary restraining order.
The lawsuit now continues without the restraining order.
The most recent push to remove power from the State Board of Education came after the November 2022 election when Democrats picked up three additional elected seats – two previously held by Republicans – to have a majority.
That GOP-backed legislation failed to pass before the session ended in December, but Republicans tried again during the new General Assembly in January.
It also failed to gain traction until Republicans folded it into the state budget, passed in June and signed into law by DeWine in July.
By law, the governor appoints eight of the 19 members of the state board. The other 11 are elected.
In 2007, Gov. Ted Strickland issued a directive to revamp Ohio’s public education system. He wanted to streamline coordination between the state’s public schools and post-secondary institutions in the state, including colleges and adult career centers.
In 2015, Gov. John Kasich sought to alter the roles and structure of the board.