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CCS Board votes unanimously to censure member Brandon Simmons; school closures process continues

The Columbus City Schools' Board last night voted unanimously to censure board member Brandon Simmons over a six-page strategic document detailing Machiavellian methods to control perceptions of the school closure process. Leaked to the teachers union, who then published it, the document was condemned by other board members and district officials. Simmons, who voted in favor of his own censure, offered a qualified apology.

"I allowed my frustration to allow me to act in a way that was inconsistent with my values, and for that I am very sorry. I'm deeply, deeply sorry and ashamed of the document. And so I'm going to acknowledge my participation in this process. I'm going to acknowledge my wrong doing. I will say I think it's unfortunate that there may be other folks at this table who are not willing to acknowledge their participation in this process, no matter how big or small it may have been."

In her own statement, board president Christina Vera again condemned Simmons document, and insisted neither she, nor the superintendent, nor other board members had any part in it's creation. As part of the censure, Simmons has been stripped of his leadership of the Community and Advocacy Committee and membership in the Equitable and Transparent Resource Management Committee. Vera says he is also under order from district attorneys to turn over any documents that support his claim other board members were involved - or face further sanctions. And she says it's time return to the business of the board.

" person's actions, whether they want to admit it or not, do not speak for the rest of us. After tonight we will continue to provide whatever addition information we can provide. But I'm done, personally, talking about this. Because at the end of the day, it's about 46,000 students, and the future of this district."

Simmons has indicated that in regards to documentation, he is retaining his own attorney.

The Columbus Education Association has demanded Simmons resignation, and also demanded the board shelve recommendations made by the superintendent's task force on school closures. The controversy over the leaked document has thrown a wrench into an already tight timeline. The task force, which was seated in February, presented several school closure scenarios to the board earlier this month. Several of the meetings to gather public input on the proposals were cancelled when Simmons' document was leaked, but the board is still slated to vote on final recommendations in late June, with implementation to begin at the start of the 2025 school year.

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.