Monday, June 17, 2019 Medina 67°


Black River superintendent says district earns leeway from the state


SULLIVAN TWP. - Black River Superintendent Chris Clark said the district's high, middle and elementary schools all received an "independent" designation by the Ohio Department of Education.

"We just think it is important that we pass that onto the community," Clark said Tuesday.

According to a letter sent by the state Department of Education to Black River administrators, the ranking is one of four assigned to schools under the department's Every Student Success Act plan that include priority, focus, warning or independent designations.

An independent designation is defined as: "a building or district receives the most flexibility and the least amount of oversight from the Ohio Department of Education."

Clark said it appears that according to the plan, if a district is meeting education standards at a federal level that the state will accept that status and not intervene in a district's affairs as a result.

"Basically we don't have to be looked at by the state Department of Education," Clark said.

"The state Department of Education feels that we are doing a quality job so we don't have to have oversight like some school districts have."

According to the U.S. Department of Education, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law in 2015 as a replacement to the previous No Child Left Behind Act.

The state submitted its ESSA plan to the federal government in September 2017. The plan addresses school improvement, accountability, educator effectiveness and academic content standards and assessments. The designations were part of the state level plan to address federal oversight guidelines.

Clark said that being notified that the district will continue operating without state oversight is meaningful for a smaller district like Black River, which is spread across parts of Medina, Lorain and Ashland counties and is made up of about 1,200 students.

"There are a lot of school districts that are bordering Medina County that the state is actually involved and say you are going to do things this way and you don't have a choice in the matter," Clark said.

Medina County Education Service Center Superintendent William Koran said he was not aware of any other schools in the county that received the designation.

According to the district's letter from the Ohio Department of Education, "independent schools strive to continuously improve student outcomes by supporting the whole child, ensuring equitable service for all students and creating a culture and climate that supports learning."

Clark said the district makes a conscientious effort to continue improving, and that has helped it achieve its status with the state.

"We have been able to do things and try to basically be proactive so that way you are not in a situation where you have to react," he said.

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or

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