Two members of the Toledo board of education apologized last night to the parent whose complaints exposed a shortage of certified special education teachers in the district.
School board President Peter Silverman said it was unfortunate that Vicki Robinson's concerns about her son having an uncertified teacher were not responded to promptly.
“I am also sorry for what happened,” Mr. Silverman said. He said if administrators had admitted Ms. Robinson's allegation in the first place, she might not have had to file a lawsuit.
Board member Terry Glazer was the first to offer an apology. He congratulated Ms. Robinson on her persistence.
“The problem is now in the forefront,” Mr. Glazer said.
Ms. Robinson complained that her son's sixth-grade teacher at Spring Elementary School did not have the right certification to supervise a special-education class.
Her complaint led to a letter from the state Department of Education giving the district 60 days to assign a certified person to the post.
However, school officials said there are 37 other substitutes covering special-education classes who do not have the required license because of a shortage of such teachers.
Superintendent Dr. Eugene Sanders said his office is involved in a variety of efforts to increase the number of special education teachers being trained by colleges of education.
Ms. Robinson has been trying since early fall, with no success, to reverse her son's reassignment from Riverside Elementary School, where he was last school year, to Spring.
“The ant has moved the hill,” she said. “It seems like everyone is making excuses about why my son is in a class with a substitute teacher who is not qualified to teach.”
Also last night, a parent group criticized the gag rule that has been placed on contract negotiations by the school board, the administration, and the unions.
Darlene Fisher, a trustee of Parents for Public Schools, said parents and taxpayers have a right to be informed about the progress of negotiations.
“Parents for Public Schools is very interested in learning how reform, accountability, and results will be implemented as we move forward in this school year and the future,” Mrs. Fisher said.
Mr. Silverman said publicity on the negotiations would undermine trust at the bargaining table and discourage people from proposing or considering ideas that could embarrass them if made public.
Dr. Sanders said he is planning a series of seven public forums in February and March so the public can express their opinions about school district goals.
The board appointed Kathy Gregory, former principal of Cherry Elementary, to be principal of the Old West End Academy at a salary of $59,258.
The new elementary school, to open in the fall with grades kindergarten through three, will have district-wide enrollment.
Sandra Ellis, former assistant principal of Pickett Elementary School, was appointed principal of Fulton Elementary at a salary of $54,847.
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