Stephanie Dodd, State School Board member


Stephanie Dodd: OEA’s Representative on the State Board of Education

The Democratic operative makes sure the union line gets towed

By Connor Brown


Stephanie Dodd was an interesting pick for State School Board from the start. A parochial school graduate and wife of a private school lobbyist, she had close ties to the Ohio Democrat Party and is more-or-less a full-time politico. Thus, her qualifications for sitting on the state’s education policy-making committee were slim at best. 

But she came to the table with one important qualification: close ties to the OEA. As a long-time Democratic operative, Stephanie Dodd built up close relations with OEA big wigs, who in turn helped bankroll her campaign for State School Board. In fact, her campaign donation list reads off like a who’s who of anti-charter schools. 

From the Akron Beacon Journal:

“In her quest for the board, she had one of the better-financed campaigns, receiving support from the Ohio public school and public employees Turnaround Ohio PAC, $6,733; Ohio Democratic Party Candidate Fund, $7,500; Ohio Education Association Fund for Children and Public Education, $5,000; Ohio Education Association, $5,833; and the Ohio Federation of Teachers, $114.”

Perhaps this is why the Dispatch and other anti-charter papers seek comment specifically from Stephanie Dodd. They know they will get the unapologetic party line from the OEA through Mrs. Dodd, and she seems to be the go-to board member for these media outlets on issues related to charters. Even the Plain Dealer reported on how she was organizing Democrats on the State School Board to vote as a block to increase their voting power. (No doubt this “organizing” likely includes “round robin calls” with these members, even though she’s now claiming none ever took place.)

But to her credit as a trained political operative, Stephanie Dodd can play it cool and sound reasonable when she has to. After she was forced to listen to ECOT supporters testify after the vote to claw back ECOT’s funding at the June 12 State Board of Education meeting, she praised the school and seemed to offer an olive branch:

 “I think it’s great that they are doing some of the wonderful things they’re doing, and I hope that we can maybe engage with them in conversations about how to expand that and maybe determine some best practices for other schools,” Dodd said. (Statehouse News Bureau) 

But don’t hold your breath. According to ECOT spokesperson Neil Clark, Dodd and other members of the school board have been invited numerous times to visit the school and meet the teachers and parents. But so far not a single member of the current board has accepted. 

Perhaps Mrs. Dodd is only open to compromise when she is in the public view. Because behind the scenes, it’s clear what her role is on the State Board of Education: be OEA’s mouthpiece.