Representative Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake)

“Big Government Greenspan” Takes Aim at Private Schools

By Connor Brown


When it comes to education policy, Republicans sometimes talk a big game of local control, school choice, and allowing the private sector to innovate-- free from the long arm of government and the arrogance of we-know-best bureaucrats at the embattled Ohio Department of Education.


But all too often, the reality is much different.


Most recent case in point:  Suburban Cleveland Republican Dave Greenspan of the Ohio House and the power grab of House Bill 360, his “anti-bullying” initiative.  It’s another in a long line of top-down mandates to schools, this time about how to discipline students and manage “hazing.”  Evidently not willing to trust the schools to handle student discipline—as they have for centuries-- Greenspan wants the Ohio Revised Code to also serve as the school handbook.


Ohio’s public schools are used to this treatment, of course.  So are the charters.  Another day, another state government mandate.


But 3rd Rail has learned Greenspan is now pushing the agenda even further:  imposing his rules on private schools


While the Legislative Service Commission’s short title says the bill impacts “public schools and public colleges,” Big Government Greenspan is now trying to regulate every independent, private, and religious school in Ohio


This is unprecedented.  This is also insane.


A quick read of HB 360 shows it applies not just to students but also “alumni.”  It mandates anti-bullying policies be written and adopted, and that if bullying occurs, the incident be reported to the local court system.  After that a “community service plan” must be written, inclusive of “goals and timelines.”


 By the way, the regulations kick in starting in kindergarten.    


From there, the bill starts to look like a criminal statute, except for kids while inside their school buildings.  Penalties specified for first offense, second offense, etc.  Counseling is mandated and the student is barred from any extracurricular.  Of course, no bill of this nature would be complete without a due process section, and HB 360 does not disappoint in this regard.  Written notices, hearings, opportunities to challenge, rights to a lawyer… it’s all here.  Including mandatory transcripts and a right to appeal to the court system.


Yes, the court system.


Now look.  If the State of Ohio really thinks its school districts need this kind of micromanagement, that’s a slap in the face to local control and a pretty sad commentary.  But that is a policy decision they can make.  Have at ‘em, Dave.


But for parents and families who have decided to exit the public school system—and essentially double-pay for education—is this really necessary?  Does the Head of School at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson really need Dave Greenspan to tell him how to run it?  Do the priests at St. Xavier in Cincinnati need their students hiring trial lawyers to appeal their decisions to the court system?  Does anyone think ODE has done such a bang-up job with public schools that we need to sick them on the private ones?


Free advice to the private schools:  Fight This Like Hell. 


Big Government Greenspan and the State of Ohio are now trying to empower the same bureaucrats who turned 12,000 ECOT families out on the street to take control of your schools too.  Your families left the public system for a reason, and the control freaks in Columbus have never liked that.  They have generally kept quiet about it, but deep down they are desperate to expand their marketshare to 100% of Ohio’s schoolchildren.


It starts with student discipline and innocent-sounding initiatives like “anti-bullying.”  But if Greenspan is successful, be assured of this:  this is not where it ends, and it does not end well.