Second member resigns from Ohio State Board of Education after refusing to overturn anti-racism resolution

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Eric Poklar, appointed member of the Ohio State Board of Education, has resigned after voting against a measure that repealed an anti-racism resolution passed following the murder of George Floyd.

Poklar, a native of the Columbus suburb of Worthington, resigned in a letter to Governor Mike DeWine on Friday morning.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as an appointed member of the Ohio State Board of Education,” he wrote. “I am writing to resign from my position on the board of directors with immediate effect. “

(Read the letter below or click here to read a PDF copy.)

He is the second person to announce that he is leaving the board of directors. Board chair Laura Kohler said Thursday Gov. Mike DeWine had asked her to step down.

Kohler said there were enough votes in the Ohio Senate to remove her from her post. She chose to resign following a prolonged struggle with lawmakers, in the hopes that the State Board of Education would not be affected in her work in the future.

The board is in the process of hiring a search firm to help them find a new superintendent of public education, following the retirement of former superintendent Paolo DeMaria in September.

Former Governor John Kasich first appointed Poklar to the board in January 2017. DeWine re-appointed him in January 2020.

“I am proud of my service to the Ohio Council and students,” his letter said. “No matter how long a board member has served, that service is always temporary, with many board members coming before me and many after. I salute those I have worked with and wish all the best to those who will serve in the future.

“Quite simply, my time on the board is up and I’m ready to hand over my responsibilities to whoever comes next. “

In July 2020, after Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer, the board passed a three-page anti-racism and fairness resolution declaring that there are profound disparities between black, native students. and Ohio-colored and white students in all parts of the education system. ; progress in closing the gaps has been uneven and unsatisfactory; that racism, hatred and fanaticism have no place in schools; and that the board seek open and courageous conversations about racism and inequity.

On October 13, the board, which had new members, voted to repeal the anti-racism resolution and replace it with a resolution to promote academic excellence without “respect for race, ethnicity or of belief “. He acknowledged that race can be a factor in educational gaps, but said other issues, like poverty, can also create gaps, although critics said disaggregated data showed children of color. performed worse on tests than poor white children.

Earlier this week, the Ohio Senate confirmed the appointment of three people appointed by the State Board of Education who voted to overturn the anti-racist resolution: Steve Dackin, who does not mention his hometown on biography of her school board but works for Columbus State Community College, Martha Manchester of Logan County and J. Timothy Miller of Akron.

Ohio Senate Speaker Matt Huffman said he or other senators spoke to two or three of the candidates in the spring, ahead of the vote. They told them about the anti-racism resolution, the choice of school, and how the Ohio Department of Education works.

Huffman said he was concerned there were too many appointees from the Columbus area.


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