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Published: Sunday, 5/21/2006

TPS urged to think 'outside box'


The Toledo Board of Education should hire an interim superintendent from outside the schools, Toledo Federation of Teachers President Francine Lawrence said yesterday.

Ms. Lawrence said the district needs someone who brings a different, nontraditional approach to leadership. She suggested a local business executive.

"Although we are going through transition, we have purpose and focus," she said. "This would indicate to the public the district is thinking outside the box."

The school board voted Wednesday to enter into negotiations with John Foley, the district's chief of staff, to hire him as the district's interim superintendent. At the same meeting, the board asked Superintendent Eugene Sanders to resign effective tomorrow, instead of Aug. 31.

Board member Larry Sykes said members had discussed bringing in an outside person to serve during the transition, but decided it would take too long for that person to get up to date on Toledo Public Schools' issues and could not hit the ground running.

"The key to stay the course is to promote somebody who has a relationship with everybody," he said. "If you need brain surgery, you wouldn't hire a podiatrist. We needed a brain surgeon."

In a news release issued yesterday, Ms. Lawrence also said that she fears the loss of the district's chief academic officer, Craig Cotner, should an interim superintendent be chosen from within the district.

She said he could be lost without support from the board and the new interim superintendent.

She later told The Blade it is "widely believed" that Mr. Sanders might offer Mr. Cotner a job with the Cleveland school district.

Neither Mr. Cotner or Mr. Sanders could be reached for comment last night.

Board President Darlene Fisher publicly declared Friday that the board should not pay Mr. Sanders to resign early.

The board of education will hold a special meeting tomorrow "to conclude the discussions" of Mr. Sanders' early departure and Mr. Foley as a candidate as an interim replacement.

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