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Published: Sunday, 4/1/2007

Progress is reported at TPS mediation session

The Toledo Board of Education's professional mediator said the group's third session with her, held yesterday morning, produced progress.

Margaret Hopkins, an assistant professor of management at the University of Toledo and a former Cleveland Board of Education member, has facilitated the meetings aimed at resolving board members' disagreements and differences.

"My experience has been that all five individuals care deeply about educating children," Ms. Hopkins said after the three-hour meeting at the former Riverside Hospital.

"They are using that as a foundation or guidepost," she said.

The board finished discussing its code of ethics and standard of conduct documents yesterday.

Among the requirements listed in the two documents is a promise not to leak information from the board's closed-door, executive session meetings.

The retreat, which was open to the public, included all five board members, Interim Superintendent John Foley, and Daniel Romano, the district's chief business manager and treasurer pro tem.

The board members discussed the shots they've taken at each other in the past and some of the criticism that has come monthly from several regular attendees to the monthly board meetings.

Board member Larry Sykes indicated it is damaging that board member Darlene Fisher is a member of a community group whose few members are highly critically of the district.

"Month after month, they talk about the same thing and launch personal attacks on board members," Mr. Sykes said.

Ms. Fisher said she also had been criticized during an open meeting, and even asked to resign, but said the best thing to do was to "reach out to the person."

Board members agreed to goals for gaining financial stability, establishing a leadership team, hiring a superintendent, forming a resolution for addressing low-performing schools, and developing a district strategic plan.

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