Superintendent responds to allegations

Saturday, January 5th 2008, 10:57 pm
By: News 9

From Staff and Wire Reports

John Porter responded Saturday to allegations about his performance as Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent.

Porter reaffirmed his pledge to serve Oklahoma City students and parents in a letter to the community. He wrote he'll continue to do his job as superintendent despite Hudson's suggestion that he resign.

School Board Chairman Cliff Hudson said Porter has declined to meet with the board since before Christmas to talk about the board's investigation of complaints about Porter's behavior.

The board hired Robert McCampbell, a former U.S. Attorney, as a special counsel to investigate Porter.

"We are disheartened that Superintendent Porter continues to avoid talking to the Board," Chairman Hudson wrote in a statement issued to NEWS 9. "We have tried numerous times to meet and talk with him about these matters. We would have preferred to meet with him face-to-face for a candid and constructive discussion as opposed to communicating in an indirect manner through the media."

Hudson said the board began receiving complaints from employees about inappropriate behavior by the superintendent. Hudson said the board set up two meetings on Dec. 20 to review the investigation with Porter, but the superintendent did not attend, citing an emergency. Porter has not contacted the district since then, Hudson said.

Porter began working with the Oklahoma City school district on July 1. In his court filing, Porter claimed that Hudson had undermined his authority as the district's superintendent.

"The superintendent has been treated with hostility (and) disrespect," according to the filing, which goes on to note that Hudson "has indicated he would pursue the termination of the superintendent."

Porter asked an Oklahoma County judge on Friday to prevent the board from meeting behind closed doors on Monday, but District Judge Carolyn Ricks did not grant the request for an injunction, which means the board can meet starting at 8 a.m. Monday.

The filing also notes Porter received a letter from McCampbell stating that the board planned to consider suspending Porter and possibly firing him.

Porter's attorney, Murray Abowitz, declined comment, saying the matter remains in litigation.

Porter's court filing also said it was not fair that the school board moved its meeting time on Monday to 8 a.m. from its regular time of 5:30 p.m. The filing noted that changing the time "deprives and impairs the ability of interested citizens to speak on the issue of the employment of the superintendent."

Hudson said the meeting's start time was changed because time is of the essence.

"Several employees did come forward to report certain inappropriate -- certain elements of inappropriate behavior, certain repeated inappropriate activities on (Porter's) part," Hudson said. "The report that has been delivered to John Porter makes it very clear by implication who those employees are."