A Tragedy Leads to An Irony
General Assembly Still Clueless on Education
In the Ohio General Assembly, irony is dead.
Case in point: Senate Bill 82 which requires school districts to notify families when a student is 90 minutes late to school. This sort of communication makes all the sense in the world so parents can account for their children’s whereabouts from those transition periods from the bus stop until the school bell rings. Tardiness is a red flag.
Tragically, this bill is reactive, not proactive. It was spawned in response to an unspeakable horror: the senseless death of fourteen-year old girl Alianna DeFreeze of Cleveland, who was kidnapped at the bus stop, raped, and murdered by confessed killer Christopher Whitaker. Despite a notification protocol in Cleveland schools, the family did not even know of Alianna’s disappearance for10 hours.
So the Senate response in SB 82 is a simple notification mandate— which is fine, if one assumes that unlike last time the school will actually follow the protocol. No assurances there, of course.
But now for the irony. Completely unaddressed in the bill and absent from the policy discussion is the fact that the Ohio Department of Education actually paid Cleveland Metropolitan School District for “educating” the victim for the time she was in the hands of her kidnapping murderer.
Cleveland Public will be paid for Alianna, and any other kid who for whatever reason doesn’t show up (as long as it’s not one of the three headcount days!).
Think about that, and you begin to understand the depths of ODE’s depravity.
Charter schools across Ohio must be shuttered if they cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt how many minutes per day their students were actively engaged in learning. No proof? No money. Close your doors. Kids displaced and teachers fired.
But if students in the public districts are late or absent—even because of the school district’s own negligence— the state response is to ask for a robo-call that any self-respecting superintendent would make anyway?
SB 82 won’t help Alianna. It won’t help other kids trapped in failing, unsafe public schools. It won’t even be enforced.
But it may make a handful of politicians like Peggy Lehner feel good when they rise to give self-congratulatory floor speeches. And maybe that’s the point.