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Published: Thursday, 3/23/2006

Cleveland team here to 'study' TPS leader


Officials of the Cleveland Public School District will be in Toledo today looking for reasons why Eugene Sanders should become their next chief executive officer.

Mr. Sanders, Toledo Public Schools superintendent for nearly six years, is one of two finalists for the Cleveland job.

Larry Davis, the Cleveland school board chairman, will be among the team in Toledo. A simultaneous site visit is planned to Charleston, S.C., where the other finalist, Nancy McGinley, is chief academic officer.

The team plans to question TPS senior staff members, teachers, parents, and Toledo residents, Kevin Burtzlaff, a spokesman for the Cleveland district, said.

The Cleveland school board had planned to choose a new leader for its 60,000-student district about two weeks ago but delayed the process to examine both candidates more closely. The Cleveland school board has the authority to hire a new school district chief executive, but it needs the concurrence of the mayor.

Mr. Sanders' resignation announcement in December, effective Aug. 31, has sparked debate - chiefly initiated by Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner. The mayor demanded that the Toledo Board of Education retain the superintendent.

The Toledo school board answered last week with a unanimous agreement to negotiate with Mr. Sanders to stay with the 30,000-student Toledo district.

Mr. Sanders has declined to comment on his resignation, Mayor Finkbeiner's plea, the school board's vote, or the Cleveland job.

A small but vocal group called the Urban Coalition opposed retaining Mr. Sanders.

Toledo board President Darlene Fisher, who was a member of the Urban Coalition and was endorsed by the group, was the only member to oppose the mayor's campaign to keep Mr. Sanders. She would not say if her affirmative vote last week signaled a change of heart.

Another group, called the Concerned Citizens Group, which has identified itself as just three members - minister Charles Muhammad, local activist Twila Page, and former Scott High School basketball coach Ben Williams - said in an e-mail to the district Tuesday it would consider organizing a campaign opposing the next TPS tax levy and urging parents to send their children to charter schools if the resignation is rescinded.

Ms. Page declined to comment yesterday, referring questions to Mr. Muhammad, who could not be reached.

Ms. Fisher wouldn't comment yesterday on the Concerned Citizens' threat because "I would really like to see the e-mail first before I say anything."

Contact Ignazio Messina at:


or 419-724-6171.

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