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Ohio Department of Education Press Releases

Experienced Leaders Appointed to Panel to Improve Lorain City Schools

Release date: 4/6/2017

Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria, Lorain City School District Board President Tim Williams and Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer named five individuals to serve on the new academic distress commission that will carry out the statutory responsibilities supporting improvement and excellence in the Lorain City School District.

Named to the commission by State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria are:

  • Patricia O’Brien, Executive Director, The Stocker Foundation;
  • Anthony Richardson, Program Officer, The Nord Family Foundation;
  • Michele Soliz, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President, Student Success and Inclusion, University of Toledo.

Named to the commission by Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer is:

  • John Monteleone, Assistant Superintendent, Oberlin City Schools.

Named to the commission by Lorain City School District Board President Tim Williams is:

  • Dorinda Hall, Academic Instructional Coach, Lorain City Schools.

“Lorain is a proud community. I am impressed by the commitment and dedication of teachers, administrators, civic leaders and the community working together to make city schools better. The academic distress commission will go about its work valuing all that is taking place and building on the progress being made with the goal that all students succeed,” said Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction. “We are grateful to these new commission members for their expertise and willingness to support the goal of a high-quality education system in Lorain.”

“I am impressed with the quality of the appointees to the academic distress commission,” said Mayor Chase Ritenauer. “Experience, diversity, intelligence, local roots and a strong belief in public service are all represented. These attributes are essential in earning community trust in the academic distress commission process. The appointees to the commission represent a positive step forward for the schools and for the entire Lorain community, and I look forward to doing my part as mayor to assure that our students have access to quality education and opportunity.”

“We really appreciate the collaborative process the state and city have taken with this initiative,” said Lorain City School District Board President Tim Williams. “They have recognized that the success of our district is directly correlated to its community engagement. State Superintendent DeMaria shared with us earlier how impressed he was with the broad range of community support we have here in our district. I believe this commission represents a solid continuation of that tradition here in Lorain. This commission will allow us to continue to build upon the work that has been done and the progress that has been made.”

On Oct. 15, 2015, a new state law took effect that strengthens the academic distress commission and required the following appointments to be made within 30 days, including:

  • Three members appointed by the state superintendent of public instruction, one of whom is a resident in the county in which the majority of the district's territory is located;
  • One member who is a teacher employed by the district, appointed by the president of the district board of education; and
  • One member appointed by the mayor of the municipality, or if no municipality exists, one member appointed by the mayor of a municipality selected by the state superintendent.

The primary responsibilities of the commission are to select a chief executive officer who will have complete operational, managerial and instructional control of the district. The commission also will approve the improvement plan developed by the CEO after working with stakeholders to identify expectations for academic improvement in the district. The CEO may delegate specific powers or duties to the district board or district superintendent.

Once academic distress commission members are selected, the superintendent of public instruction appoints a chair. Once the chair is appointed, the commission has 60 days to hire the CEO.

A school district can transition out of academic distress status once it receives an overall grade of C or higher and maintains a grade higher than F for two additional years. More information on academic distress commissions can be found by clicking here.

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About Patricia O’Brien
Patricia O’Brien currently serves as executive director of The Stocker Foundation and leads the organization through all facets of strategic decision-making related to competitive grant-making and evaluation, local funding initiatives and maintaining best practice governance policies.

Before joining The Stocker Foundation, O’Brien honed her nonprofit management and fund development skills while employed at The City Club of Cleveland and Girl Scouts of North East Ohio (formerly Girl Scouts of Erie Shores). She is actively involved in Philanthropy Ohio, participating on the Education Advisory Committee, focused on critical areas to improve student achievement, early childhood learning, college and career readiness, and college completion. For 10 years (2005-2015), O’Brien served on the board of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio. Holding leadership positions of increased responsibility, she was board chair (2014-2015) during a multimillion dollar capital campaign to construct a new, 40,000 square foot warehouse distribution facility. Currently, she serves as a founding board member and board chair of Oberlin Center for the Arts.

About Anthony Richardson, J.D.
Anthony Richardson currently serves as a Civic Affairs and Education program officer for the Nord Family Foundation. He is a native of Lorain and a 2001 honors graduate of Admiral King High School. In 2005, Richardson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College, where he double majored in Politics and African-American Studies with a concentration in Education. Shortly thereafter, he enrolled in law school and graduated from The Ohio State University’s Michael E. Moritz College of Law in 2009.

In 2011, Richardson was elected as a councilman at large in the city of Lorain, becoming the youngest African-American elected to an at-large seat. In 2013, he was re-elected and subsequently appointed chairman of the Police, Fire, and Legislative Standing Committee. During his time on City Council, he sponsored legislation to increase hiring goal percentages for racial/ethnic minorities and women on city projects, supported senior citizen initiatives and worked diligently to address constituent needs and concerns.

Richardson is an active participant with Philanthropy Ohio, where he currently serves on the Member Services Committee, Education Advisory Committee, Public Policy Committee and the Tax Reform Working Group.

About Michele Soliz, Ph.D.
Dr. Michele Soliz currently serves as the assistant vice president for Student Success and Inclusion within the Division of Student Affairs at The University of Toledo. In addition to leading the Office of Multicultural Student Success, Dr. Soliz provides leadership to the Office of EXCEL as well as the Upward Bound program.

With nearly 20 years of experience in higher education, Dr. Soliz has served in numerous key roles across the institution, including in the Office of the President. In collaboration with partners across the institution, Dr. Soliz increased the usage and visibility of academic support services that help retain students and lead to graduation. Prior to her role in the provost’s area, Dr. Soliz served as the dean of students. She is active in the UT Latino Alumni Affiliate, serves as a mentor to African-American female students in the Talented and Aspiring Women Leaders program and teaches Managing Diversity in the Workplace.

Dr. Soliz received her Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies from Bowling Green State University and earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in Higher Education from the University of Toledo, where her research focused on Latino student baccalaureate completion rates and student engagement.

About John Monteleone
John Monteleone is a resident of the city of Lorain, a former educator and principal in the Lorain City School District for 17 years, and is currently the assistant superintendent of the Oberlin City Schools.

Monteleone received a Bachelor of Arts from John Carroll University, a Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Bowling Green State University, and attended Cleveland State University’s Superintendent Program. He serves as a committee member on the Ohio Standards Coalition, where he has direct input and knowledge of the instructional state standards, the revision process, legislative recommendations and resources. He was recognized as one of the top 10 exceptional Latino school leaders in the United States by the National Council of La Raza, where he serves as an advocate.

About Dorinda Hall
Dorinda Hall currently serves as an academic instructional coach for Lorain City Schools, supporting teachers in the classroom with data and instructional strategies at the elementary level. She has held various teaching and administrative positions within the district since 2004 and has been a teacher since 1997. Hall holds a Bachelor of Science from Central State University and a Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Cleveland State University. She also holds a principal license.

Hall has served in various leadership roles in the district, including serving on the District Leadership Team, Professional Learning Steering Committee, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Team and the Policy Committee. She also has served as an advisor and facilitator with the Educator’s Knowledge Network through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.