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Published: Thursday, 2/7/2008

Trio on TPS board won't face lawsuit

A lawsuit contending that three members of the Toledo Board of Education violated the state's open-meetings law when forming a coalition in 2006 has been withdrawn.

Steven Flagg, a member of the Toledo Public Schools watchdog group Urban Coalition and longtime critic of the district, refused yesterday to say why he withdrew the suit.

The case was dismissed without prejudice Friday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, meaning Mr. Flagg could file the lawsuit again.

"My reasons for taking action at this time regarding the lawsuit filed against three Toledo Board of Education members in violation of Ohio Sunshine Law statutes are complex," he said. "I will be issuing a statement in the near future articulating the issues and concerns."

When the lawsuit was filed in June, 2006, Mr. Flagg said then-board members Deborah Barnett and Larry Sykes and current board President Steven Steel met behind closed doors to form "3 for Children" and, in doing so, violated Ohio's Sunshine Law, also known as the Open Meetings Act.

Board members maintained the coalition was formed through individual discussions and not in a secret meeting.

Mr. Steel, the only remaining board member of "3 for Children," said yesterday the suit has been an unfortunate diversion from board business.

"It's nice to know that's one distraction that can be put aside," he said.

The district's legal costs in the suit were not available.

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