Dayton-area leader named president of state school board

Charlotte McGuire of Washington Twp. was chosen as president of Ohio’s state school board Monday after serving as vice president for almost three years.

Former board president Laura Kohler resigned under pressure from the state Senate last month after she voted not to repeal an equity/racism resolution the board had passed.

McGuire represents all of Montgomery, Miami, Preble, Butler and half of Darke County on the 19-member state school board, which helps to guide K-12 education policy for Ohio schools, in concert with the state legislature and the Ohio Department of Education.

Board members voted for McGuire as president at their monthly meeting Monday, by a margin of 14-3 over board member Antoinette Miranda. Steve Dackin was chosen as vice president.

McGuire said neither Gov. Mike DeWine’s office nor Senate President Matt Huffman spoke to her about the position, after both were involved in Kohler’s exit.

“It feels like a challenge,” McGuire said of the board presidency. “What’s in my heart, and has been since I’ve been on the board, is to unify our board for the success of Ohio’s children. I have to look at all options to promote peace and understanding, forward momentum toward making Ohio’s system one of the best, if not the best, in the nation.”

State board members have been arguing for over a year about a racial equity resolution the body passed in 2020. The resolution spotlighted continuing academic performance gaps between races, and said “systemic inequity in education has relegated millions of children of color to under-resourced, struggling schools.”

On Oct. 13, the board voted to rescind that resolution, despite a “no” vote from Kohler. On Oct. 29, Kohler and fellow board member Erik Poklar resigned. McGuire and Dackin, the board’s new leaders, both voted to rescind the resolution.

Ohio Department of Education officials said Monday they were not immediately sure whether McGuire was the first Black president of the state board. She said if true, that would be significant for her “given that I grew up under Jim Crow laws and graduated from a segregated high school.” She said education was a key to her life, and she espouses personal responsibility and hard work.

McGuire was appointed to the state board in 2016 and then elected in 2018. She would be up for re-election to the state board in November 2022, and she said she is “open to” running for another term.

In her remarks to the board Monday, McGuire cited the Northwest Ordinance’s language prioritizing education, and that “religion, morality, and knowledge” were necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind.

“I’m a very strong proponent of closing the gap between home and the school. Parents should be true partners to their child’s education process,” McGuire said. “We need options for each unique student. Plus we need to keep our expectations high. Every child has the inherent potential to succeed. Our job is to tap in and release that potential.”

McGuire spent decades in government and nonprofit work, including time leading Project Impact and Reclaiming Futures, groups that help teenagers dealing with drug, alcohol and criminal behaviors. She also helps her husband Arthur run Joshua Christian Ministries.

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