NAACP Gives High Marks to Schools CEO’s Performance

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown chapter of the NAACP gives Krish Mohip’s performance during his first six months as CEO of city schools three A’s, a C and a D, with grades to come later this year — in July and September — in five other areas.

The A’s came in the three areas the NAACP believes matter most at the outset: communication, setting priorities and ending the practice of holding kindergarten students back from entering first grade.

The NAACP gave Mohip a C for “timely response to request for public information” and a D for “hiring of best academic practitioners [principals] for underperforming schools.” The state gave all city schools save one, Youngstown Virtual Academy, either an F or a D for the 2015-16 school year. The academy was not rated.

The president of the NAACP chapter, George Freeman Jr., and the vice president for education and social justice, Jimma McWilson, invited the press to meet in their offices Wednesday where they released the report card and explained their grading criteria.

As if to underscore why he got an A for communication, Mohip issued a press release two hours later in response. (City schools spokeswoman Denise Dick attended the press conference but did not speak.)

In his statement, Mohip said, “I recognize that we still have a lot of work to do [a point Freeman and McWilson took pains to emphasize] and I appreciate the NAACP’s acknowledging what we’ve accomplished so far. I look forward to continuing what has been a positive relationship with an organization that shares the district’s main focus: what’s best for the students. … Our work is far from complete but we are headed in the right direction.”

Even the D the NAACP gave Mohip “is not really something bad,” McWilson told reporters. Replacing the principals “is just a priority for us” and the chapter believes Mohip isn’t working fast enough to recruit “best academic practitioners,” as principals are called. They provided him a list of practitioners they deem well-qualified.

“We intend to turn up the heat,” Freeman said. “We have to monitor what he’s [Mohip is] doing and be a thermostat, not a thermometer,”

The NAACP is especially unhappy with the performance of the principal at East High School where, said Clarence Boles, a columnist for the Buckeye Review, the principal has failed to stop “incidents” and student “melees.” The principal is new this school year.

There was disagreement between Boles and the NAACP over the principal’s credentials and qualifications.

Asked what overall grade the NAACP would give Mohip’s first six months – July 1 to Dec. 31 – McWilson declined to offer one.

Asked to offer a critique of the Youngstown Board of Education, Freeman and McWilson also declined. (Board member Jackie Adair attended and spoke to reporters afterward.)

Mohip has hired 10 social workers to be in the school buildings, a step the NAACP deems in the right direction.

Asked if any members of the NAACP are acting as mentors or tutors to students in city schools, McWilson said he wasn’t aware of any and that the chapter doesn’t track such involvement. The role of the NAACP, he explained, is to work with families and teach parents to be advocates for their children.

Of greatest concern, Freeman and McWilson said, is the quality of education the students receive. They want graduates of Youngstown City Schools to be prepared to go on to higher education or enter the workforce. There are 3,000 jobs available in the region, McWilson said, and 1,400 require only a high school diploma.

With the high truancy rates and low test scores on the state standardized tests, the NAACP worries that graduates of Youngstown schools aren’t prepared to enter the workforce, that they aren’t being taught what they need to know.

Freeman and McWilson allowed that Youngstown didn’t become the worst school district in the state overnight. But they hope to quickly reverse a situation at least 20 years in the making.

Having a CEO independent of the school board was a necessary first step, they said. Now they want Mohip to use his powers to effect the improvements they think he can make more quickly than he is willing to make them. They give him high marks for ensuring that students they identify as needing help or extra help get it.

Pictured: George Freeman Jr. and Jimma McWilson.


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