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Head Start provider settles suit filed by Blade

Agency to pay court costs, comply with law

The Blade and the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo reached an agreement Wednesday stemming from a lawsuit filed by the newspaper under Ohio's Sunshine Law.

At a planning association board meeting last week, members entered into an illegal executive session during a discussion of the agency's Head Start grant application.

According to the stipulated injunction reached in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, the agency must pay The Blade's court costs and attorney fees. It also agreed to comply with the Sunshine Law and provide notice of the agreement to all board members and officers.

At the meeting, board members questioned how the agency is preparing to reapply for a $13 million grant to run Head Start locally before going into the closed-door executive session.

The vote to enter the May 21 executive session was not conducted by a roll call as required by law, the motion to proceed into executive session did not state "with particularity" the matters that would be discussed in executive session, and the matters discussed in the session "were not matters that may be discussed in an executive session of a public body," according to the newspaper's lawsuit, filed by Toledo attorney Fritz Byers.

Richard Jackson, chairman of the planning association's board of directors, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Head Start, a program for 3 to 5-year-olds from low-income families, is run locally by the agency, but it must compete if it wants to keep receiving federal funds to run the program.

The federal government recently began soliciting bids for an entity to run Head Start in Lucas County, and grant applications must be submitted by Aug. 14. A number of groups are expected to apply.

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