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Published: Thursday, 11/9/2006

Few attend forums on superintendent search

No district residents showed up at one public forum, and only three appeared at another held yesterday to solicit ideas from the public about the search for Toledo Public Schools superintendent.

No word was available on the attendance at a third scheduled forum last night at the Farm Labor Organizing Committee headquarters in South Toledo.

Two of the three people who did show up for a forum at the district's Thurgood Marshall Building said they want a person from Toledo to head the school district, the area's largest.

The forums were scheduled by PROACT, a Milwaukee-based search firm hired by the Toledo Public Board of Education to conduct a national search for a new superintendent. Former Superintendent Eugene Sanders left earlier this year to oversee Cleveland public schools. John Foley was appointed interim TPS superintendent.

No one from the public attended the Waite High School meeting. All three forums were set at 6:30 last night based on the availability of PROACT employees, said Patty Mazur, TPS communication director.

Asked whether Tuesday's general election was a factor in the low turnout at two of the forums last night, Ms. Mazur said she would not make that connection.

"I think that people are busy these days and that they have enough on their schedules," Ms. Mazur said.

"We always say [that] if we get one person who comes, that's important," said PROACT spokesman Nancy Noeske. "We've got three, so that's really important."

Art Henry IV, a native Toledoan and a member of the watchdog Urban Coalition who attended the meeting at Thurgood, said he is "against bringing someone from out of town to use the position as a stepping stone, and take the first opportunity to get out of Dodge."

Bonita Johnson, a parent of a junior at TPS' Toledo Technical Academy and a parent coordinator for the Scott High School Learning Community, agreed.

"Mr. Foley has been doing a beautiful job and should be given the first option," she said.

Two more forums to solicit public input are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. today, one at Toledo Technical Academy, 3301 Upton Ave., and the other at Rogers High School, 222 McTigue Drive.



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