OKCPS Motions To Dismiss Board Member’s Lawsuit Over High School’s New Name

Tuesday, August 13th 2019, 5:51 pm
By: News 9

The Oklahoma City Public School District is looking to dismiss a lawsuit filed by one of its own board members. 

District leaders said Charles Henry is creating a distraction during students' first week back. He said, though, that the district never followed proper protocol in renaming Northeast Academy.

Read Related Story: OKCPS Faces Legal Action Over NE Academy Name Change During Classen SAS Merger

The district contended that the board unanimously voted on the name change in March, but Henry said the first time he ever saw “Classen SAS At Northeast” was on the new marquee in front of the school.

After months of meetings, the final Pathway to Greatness presentation outlined a new district map. Northeast Academy was still visible, and another slide said the school would “house” Classen SAS.

“The presentation said the formal name to be determined,” Henry told me.

The issue here is over board policy.

Chairwoman Paula Lewis said in a statement:

“I believe in the policies and processes that our district has in place to deal with issues such as the naming of schools. Our board is committed to following them, and I have no doubt that the court will find this to be true. More than the waste of time and resources, I’m disappointed that something as exciting as the implementation of the Pathway To Greatness - a reinvention that our district has needed for decades - is being overshadowed by the ongoing banter associated with this case. I choose to remain focused on our students and will not allow myself to be distracted by Mr. Henry’s ongoing antics.”

The district's official objection points out a board discussion over the name before the vote, establishing what administrators call a status quo -- Henry said they still haven't provided proof that the new name was ever in writing.

Henry responded that the community had accepted the name Northeast Classen SAS, but their opinions were never taken into consideration.

He said, “Some people want it to just remain Northeast only. Some people may just want it to be Classen, but when you talk about compromise, majority of people say, ‘yeah that makes sense.’”

Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel told News 9 in a statement:

“As OKCPS starts a new school year for more than 45,000 students and nearly 5,000 employees, it is unfortunate that we are forced to spend such an exorbitant amount of time and resources addressing an issue that was clearly and appropriately settled on March 4th. Prior to that vote, the name of the school was discussed in detail at the public board meeting; and following that discussion, all eight board members - including Mr. Henry - unanimously voted to approve my recommendation to name the school Classen SAS High School. We remain confident in our position and look forward to the opportunity to utilize the legal process to address the specific allegations of the lawsuit. When we are successful, OKCPS will immediately seek recovery of all attorney fees associated with this frivolous case.”

At this week's board meeting, Henry called for both McDaniel's and Lewis's resignations over the matter in a heated exchange.

“No superintendent should be a superintendent if you lied to your constituents,” Henry said. “No board chair should be standing on the board if you lied to your constituents or you circumvented the process and not allowed it to have a vote, and you already made your decision before the public even had a chance to put any input.”

Henry plans to get the case moved from federal court back to state court now, as he says the Oklahoma constitution is the law in question here.