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Published: Thursday, 10/12/2006

TPS mulls holding appeals in public

The Toledo Board of Education is considering changes to its appeal process for fighting suspensions and expulsions.

Board member Robert Torres said the board's policy committee is examining a proposal by the African American Parents Association to hold appeal hearings in open session rather than in private.

Twila Page, a member of the group, told Mr. Torres on Tuesday that she objected to a suggestion that only lawyers would be able to represent parents and students rather than "advocates or representatives," such as herself.

"The majority are low-income parents who cannot afford an attorney," Ms. Page said.

Ms. Page said her group represented about 20 students last school year during suspension or expulsion hearings.

Emilio Ramirez, Toledo Public Schools director of pupil placement, said granting Ms. Page's request to hold the hearings in public would then permit anyone to attend, including the media.

Each year, the district typically handles between 15 and 30 expulsion hearings and between 300 to 500 suspension hearings, Mr. Ramirez said.

Also during Tuesday's policy committee meeting, Steven Flagg, a West Toledo resident who is a local education activist, asked the committee to revise its policy forbidding people from mentioning the names of district employees while addressing the board of education during its meetings.

Speakers currently are told to refrain from using employees' names during the public portion of board meetings.

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