HUD­SON

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“To­day I’m fo­cus­ing on leav­ing the board, but not leav­ing ser­vice,” she said Thurs­day. “But I can’t con­tinue serv­ing.”

Hud­son’s de­par­ture fol­lows a par­tic­u­larly ac­ri­mo­nious school board meet­ing Tues­day in which board Pres­i­dent Gary Baker, gavel in hand, re­peat­edly shut down her at­tempts to force a board dis­cus­sion of a largely scut­tled fa­cil­i­ties task force rec­om­men­da­tion that in­cluded clos­ing Lin­den-McKin­ley High School and sev­eral other schools. Asked whether the board’s de­ci­sion not to close un­der-en­rolled schools was the straw that broke the camel’s back, Hud­son replied after a pause: “Yes.”

In a three-page res­ig­na­tion let­ter, Hud­son, 55, took aim squarely at Baker and, with­out nam­ing them, the three board mem­bers who largely back him: Vice Pres­i­dent Michael Cole and mem­bers W. Shawna Gibbs and Ra­mona Reyes.

While the district needs “strong pro­fes­sional

lead­er­ship ... sadly, what we’ve seen in­stead is a group of in­di­vid­u­als op­er­at­ing with­out the needed ex­per­tise, data or hard facts,” Hud­son said in her let­ter. “Like­wise, our cur­rent lead­er­ship model uses tight-fisted, bare ma­jor­ity rules that dis­dain rather than pro­mote out­side-the-box think­ing.”

Baker de­clined to di­rectly re­spond to Hud­son’s crit­i­cism.

“I had a very good con­ver­sa­tion with her this morn­ing,” Baker said. “I’m ob­vi­ously sad­dened to see her go.”

Hud­son leads the two mostim­por­tant board com­mit­tees, the Au­dit Com­mit­tee, which over­sees the work of the district’s in­ter­nal au­di­tor, and the Fi­nance and Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, which she took over only weeks ago after the sud­den de­par­ture of mem­ber Do­minic Paretti, who was ac­cused of send­ing lewd late-night texts to fe­male co-work­ers at the State­house, where he worked as a Demo­cratic aide.

Asked whether his con­ver­sa­tion with Hud­son in­cluded her plans to af­fect change from out­side the board, and if she told him whether she would sup­port a state takeover of the district, Baker said he didn’t

know. “I don’t think she has that in mind,” he added.

Hud­son came to the board in early 2014 after serv­ing on former Colum­bus Mayor Michael B. Cole­man’s “Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion,” a well-fi­nanced cam­paign backed by the Down­town busi­ness com­mu­nity that many saw as an at­tempt to wrest con­trol of the district from the elected school board.

Hud­son re­placed board Pres­i­dent Carol Perkins, a strong sup­porter of former Su­per­in­ten­dent Gene Har­ris, who stepped down after the district data scan­dal, in which ad­min­is­tra­tors ma­nip­u­lated at­ten­dance records in an at­tempt to boost state re­port­card scores.

Hud­son, an at­tor­ney, is a Demo­crat who led the Ohio Depart­ment of In­sur­ance from 2007 to 2011. Be­fore that cab­i­net ap­point­ment, Hud­son served as a Colum­bus City Coun­cil mem­ber from 2004 to 2007, fo­cus­ing on jobs and eco­nomic devel­op­ment. She made his­tory in 2004 by be­com­ing the first openly gay per­son to be ap­pointed to the city coun­cil, and again in 2014 by serv­ing on the school board.

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