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Board votes to terminate EOPA chief exec James Powell

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Board members Gretchen DeBacker, left, and Paula Ross, 2nd from left, ask for answers from CEO James Powell during a monthly EOPA board meeting at the EOPA office in Toledo.

The Blade/Lori King
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Board members at the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo voted today to terminate CEO James Powell, effective immediately.

Board members said persistent management problems and a lack of transparency that plagued the agency were behind the action taken at a meeting tonight. The vote was 13 members in favor of firing Mr. Powell. Five members voting against the termination, and one member abstained.

The agency's Chief Financial Officer, Robert Jordan, was appointed interim leader by the board.

The Toledo anti-poverty agency runs a number of social service programs locally, largest among them Head Start, which the organization is in danger of losing. Much of tonight's board discussion focused on several federal reviews of the Head Start program and if issues such as under-enrollment, enrolling children whose family incomes exceeded program limits, incorrectly spending Head Start funds on a building without authorization, and properly screening young children for developmental delays were corrected.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is expected to announce in the next several months if EOPA will retain the program.

Board members voted earlier this month to force Mr. Powell to step down no later than June 30, but said that it needed to happen more quickly if the agency had any hope of retaining the Head Start grant.

Mr. Powell has been the agency’s leader since 2009 and was deputy director from 2001 until 2008.

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