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Published: Wednesday, 1/9/2013

Parent wins bid to replace son's substitute teacher

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
`I'm happy about the ruling, but that's just one step on the stair,' says Vicki Robinson, with son Harold DeLynn Harris. `I'm happy about the ruling, but that's just one step on the stair,' says Vicki Robinson, with son Harold DeLynn Harris.
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The Toledo Public Schools have been ordered to replace a special-education teacher after a parent discovered the teacher wasn't qualified.

The parent won a ruling from the Ohio Department of Education that Toledo Public Schools must replace the teacher with one who has the proper certification.

The order, dated Dec. 27, found that the long-term substitute teacher in Harold DeLynn Harris's sixth-grade special-education class at Spring Elementary School doesn't hold the right certificate.

Harold's mother, Vicki Robinson, said she was gratified by the action.

“I'm happy about the ruling, but that's just one step on the stair,” Miss Robinson said.

She's been trying to get her 12-year-old son reinstated at Riverside Elementary, from which he was removed after the end of last school year.

“When they put him back where he came from, I'll be more satisfied,” Miss Robinson said. “He had a special-education teacher [at Riverside] that had a learning-disabled license.

“It's not just my son. There's 11 other kids in there. How many other classrooms are like this?” Miss Robinson asked.

Earl Apgar, assistant superintendent for human resources, said he was aware there are several instances in which teachers are leading classes for which they aren't certified. He said he doesn't know how many, however.

He said finding qualified special education teachers is a constant problem in Toledo and Ohio. “The difficult thing is to find qualified special education teachers in all areas. Every time we hire [a qualified special education teacher], we replace a long-term substitute who doesn't have the right certification,” Mr. Apgar said.

Mr. Apgrar said he would move quickly to comply with the state's ruling.

The order from Ed Kapel, assistant director of the Office for Exceptional Children, said the teacher, Armandina Lucio, does not have a certificate allowing her to teach students with learning disabilities on the elementary level or as a long-term substitute. She may serve as a short-term substitute, however.

Ms. Lucio holds a temporary substitute certificate allowing her to serve as a long-term substitute in grades 7-12 in the areas of psychology and sociology.

Ms. Lucio did not return a phone call to the school seeking comment yesterday.

Mr. Kapel's order gave Toledo Public Schools 60 days to appoint a teacher who has an intervention specialist license, or a temporary intervention specialist license.

“It's going to benefit all kids in that class,” said Victor Goode, an attorney with the public interest firm Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc., which brought Miss Robinson's complaint.

Miss Robinson said her son was transferred from Riverside in North Toledo to Spring, also in North Toledo, without explanation and that his behavior and academic performance have deteriorated since then. She said she investigated the teacher's qualifications after she was unable to schedule a meeting with the teacher.

Miss Robinson has been a regular critic of the school system, often attending school board meetings to complain about her son's education.

Last year, Harold was suspended from Riverside for three days for disorderly conduct. Miss Robinson charged that Harold had been goaded by another student's use of racial name-calling and that the school knew about the harassment and did nothing.

A complaint she filed with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights was denied in October.

At the start of this school year, Harold's out-of-district transfer to Riverside was revoked and he was assigned to Spring.

Spring Principal Robert Williams did not return phone calls seeking comment.



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