State case adds resources to Lima schools

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — Due to a preliminary settlement concerning disability rights, Lima schools is set to receive additional resources over a five-year-period from the Ohio Department of Education to increase its literacy rates.

The preliminary settlement stems from the civil case Doe v. State of Ohio, which aims to improve the education outcomes for students with disabilities. Lima schools was one of 11 districts in the state named in the case after an advocacy group revealed that students with disabilities from larger urban districts in the state had lower academic performance than those in other districts.

Due to the preliminary settlement, Lima schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman said school officials had met with the ODE’s urban support team last May to review what resources the school district could use. At the time, officials identified the need for improved pre-school literary programs, extended standards training for school staff and additional support to bolster high school literacy rates.

“When they came in and talked to us, we were allowed to identify areas that we needed some support in,” Ackerman said.

Due to the request, an urban literacy specialist has since begun working with the school district one day a week at Lima North and Lima Senior, and the state has provided additional training to help with the district’s pre-school literacy program. The first extended standards training class was held Nov. 5.

The court case was first filed in 2014 by the Bazelon Center, Disability Rights Ohio and the law firm Steptoe & Johnson to encourage integrated settings for students with disabilities. An analysis by DRO found that 38.5% of students with disabilities in the 11 districts named in the court case learn in an integrated classroom.

“If those students were getting the services and support they needed to learn in general education classrooms, we believe they would more likely meet the minimum academic standards set by the State of Ohio, and be better prepared for the demands of life beyond school, “DRO Director of Advocacy Kerstin Sjoberg-Witt stated in a press release.

With preliminary approval granted by the court, those named in the case may submit written comments that will be heard at a fairness hearing currently scheduled for Feb. 11 before the settlement is finalized.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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