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Published: Friday, 7/15/2005

State accused of ignoring law

A member of the Lucas County Educational Service Center board yesterday accused the Ohio Board of Education of violating state law by failing to agree to review the service center and its role in approving charter schools.

Joan Kuchcinski, who earlier this week asked the state board to get involved in the matter, said she was disappointed when state education officials decided Tuesday against a separate investigation because the state auditor's office already is looking at the issue.

"I believe it's their duty and responsibility. They need to investigate," she said.

"This is not about a superintendent's resignation. This is about the funding for our schools and what's being done with federal, state, and local dollars," she said.

Ms. Kuchcinski blew the whistle on the educational service center last week when she claimed it broke state law over the last 18 months by allowing Tom Baker, its superintendent, to independently approve millions of dollars in charter school contracts.

In a release yesterday, Ms. Kuchcinski pointed to a section of the Ohio Revised Code that she says requires the state Board of Education to hold a hearing when the board learns that a sponsor of a charter school falls out of compliance.

J.C. Benton, a spokesman for the department of education, said the agency had not been informed of Ms. Kuchcinski's claims and had no comment.

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