‘My heart is here.’ Youngstown Schools CEO Justin Jennings says he has no plans to leave the school district

Youngstown City Schools CEO Justin Jennings
Youngstown City Schools CEO Justin Jennings (Photo provided)

Despite speculation that Youngstown City School District CEO Justin Jennings might leave the school district, his commitment to serving city students remains, he said in a news release Wednesday.

Jennings’ future with the school district was undecided in December as Akron Public School officials were working to hire him as the district’s new assistant superintendent and chief of leadership and learning.

City school officials held off on this measure at a Dec. 13 school board meeting because of employment compensation negotiations relating to Jennings’ hire.

According to the board’s meeting agenda, the position would pay $183,102 per year, and Jennings’ start date was supposed to be Jan. 3.

Jennings told Mahoning Matters he removed his name from consideration for the position three weeks ago.

“My willingness and wanting to stay and be the [Youngstown City Schools] superintendent have not changed,” he said. “I’ve made this decision because my heart is here.”

Jennings said he believes all seven school board members are capable of doing their job successfully for the sake of the school district’s students.

“There are seven individuals the community has elected to do the job,” he said. “Everybody’s feelings are to do what’s right for our scholars.”

The school district continues to face challenges from the pandemic, but Jennings is working with school board members and the community to take steps in the right direction, he said in the release.

“I am proud of our work together over the last two years,” Jennings said. “As I’ve said before, my goal is to put myself out of a job as CEO and return the school district to school board oversight.”

Jennings will continue to work with the school board and the Academic Distress Commission to “transition the board back into an active role,” Jennings said in the release.

“The scholars of Youngstown inspire me each and every day,” Jennings said. “They are indeed the future leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators of tomorrow.”

John Richard, chairman of the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission, said he is pleased to see Jennings committed to the school district.

“This is good news for Youngstown scholars and the community,” he said in the release. “We look forward to reconvening soon and begin planning the implementation of the Academic Improvement Plan recently approved by the Ohio Department of Education.”

This story was originally published January 5, 2022 1:52 PM.

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