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Councilman would vote for charter schools after abstention

A Toledo councilman who abstained Tuesday on two votes involving requests for new charter schools to open in the city admitted he should have voted and now wants the chance to do so. That could clear the way for one of the schools to open downtown.

"I needed further clarification on the rule because I made a mistake in not understanding this rule of council and at the time, I labored under the belief that I could abstain," Councilman Tyrone Riley said Wednesday.

Council rules dictate a member cannot abstain unless he has a conflict. Mr. Riley said he abstained because he could not decide at the time which way he wanted to vote after hearing from both sides of the issue.

Tyrone-Riley

Tyrone Riley

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Council on Tuesday voted 6-4 on a special-use permit -- one vote shy of approval for the permit for Connections Education, a national charter-school company.

It requested to open downtown on the fourth floor of One Lake Erie Center, 600 Jefferson Ave.

Voting no were Councilmen Steven Steel, Lindsay Webb, Phil Copeland, and Adam Martinez. Councilman Paula Hicks-Hudson was not present. Mr. Riley later declined to explain his abstention.

Councilman Mike Craig, who was among the yes votes, attempted to get Mr. Riley to state his reason, but he was unsuccessful.

Mr. Riley said he will vote yes if given the chance.

If council has another vote on the request, Mr. Riley's vote along with the six affirmative votes would pave the way for the new charter school to open.

To have a re-vote, city officials said someone on the prevailing side would have to ask for it -- meaning one of the members who voted no would have to ask for the re-vote with a "motion for reconsideration."

Connections Education typically runs online charter and private schools; the new site would be a high school called Nexus Academy of Toledo and would provide a blended school, with students using online curriculum at home and spending part of the day on site.

Council on Tuesday also voted 10-0 -- with Mr. Riley again abstaining without a stated reason -- to grant a special-use permit for a new kindergarten-through-third-grade school at 4747 Heatherdowns Blvd., the former Masonic Temple.

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