The Toledo Public School Board has voted to forward the case of Sandra Meeks Speller to a state-appointed referee, who will examine evidence in the case and make a recommendation to the board.
The board could have fired Speller Tuesday after an internal report found she was insubordinate and got physical with students.
As assistant principal at the former Deveaux Middle School, an investigative hearing officer said Speller was rude and disrespectful. Speller then accepted a transfer to Spring Elementary, but the investigation alleges even worse behavior after the transfer.
According to the report, when a complaint was filed by parents that Speller grabbed a child and twisted his arm, Speller did not deny it but said "he should not have ran up by me." When a student claimed her parents hit her with a fishing pole and the parents asked what she should do, Speller allegedly said "the next time instead of using a fishing pole use a baseball bat."
Speller's family and friends says they do not believe the allegations, and gathered to support her at the meeting.
"Maybe [she was] horse playing around. Sandra's just a big kid at heart. She's 5'5", maybe 130 pounds. Most students are bigger than her. She loves the kids. She likes to get that relationship with them, to make them feel and know that she's one of them," said Janice Hughes, Speller's sister.
The board went behind closed doors for about 90 minutes at their meeting Tuesday to discuss the matter before emerging and announcing their decision. Speller remains on paid administrative leave as the investigation continues. The TPS board will still make the final decision on Speller's fate after the referee's report is returned.
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