Board again suspends Porter

Friday, January 11th 2008, 4:55 pm
By: News 9


The Oklahoma City board of education voted 6-1 in a special meeting Friday to suspend Superintendent John Porter.

It is the second time this week the board has voted to suspend the Porter who faces allegations of financial irregularities.

In an itemized document Porter faces 21 separate allegations including awarding a $365,000 reading program contract without seeking competitive bids and using taxpayer funds to reimburse himself.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater ruled earlier Friday the Oklahoma City school board violated the state's Open Meeting Act during Monday's meeting. During that meeting, the board suspended Superintendent John Q. Porter with pay.

Prater ordered the board to make public the minutes of Monday's executive session and also nullified their decisions during that session.

In a statement e-mailed to NEWS 9, Porter said he would like to thank those who attended Friday's meeting.

"It is no surprise the board took the same action today that they took on Monday," he wrote in the statement. "I have addressed the allegations publicly and will continue to be open and transparent. I would like to thank Board Member Wilfredo Santos Rivera for his vote today and I look forward to the day that Cliff and I can sit down and work out our differences and do what is right for the children of this district. I do not intend to resign."

Willfredo Santos Rivera didn't attend Monday's meeting, but returned to the board's chamber to cast the lone vote against the suspension.

"I believe in fairness, and I don't the process has been fair," he said.

Board Member Thelma Parks abstained from voting Monday but changed her mind for Friday's meeting.

"So many things have been said and done that I was convinced today, that I need to vote," she said.

Parks said she changed her mind after hearing Porter tell the media he was only given two minutes to defend himself in front of the board. Parks said that isn't true, and she now questions the superintendent's character and ability to do his job.

"If people cannot accept the truth, that's their problem, and I don't offer any apologies," she said.