Friday, March 26th 2021, 10:48 pm
The Oklahoma State Board of Education will decide whether to place the Western Heights Public School district at a meeting April 9 after listing several concerns Thursday night. Probation is a preliminary step towards rescinding the district’s accreditation.
“The leadership of (Western Heights Public Schools), the operations are all something that need to be examined,” said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.
The board voted to express “the utmost concern” with the district’s administration over a list of concerns:
-Failure to provide in-person classes since March 2020
-A decision to not provide nutritional services in spring 2020
-Audit report reflecting violation of state law, including use of 2018 bond funding meant for infrastructure repair used instead for paying previous debt.
-A school board member who was caught drinking alcohol during a board meeting
-Majority of school sites are federally designated as in need of increased student support and school improvement
-A loss of student enrollment from 3,365 to 2,597 in the last year
-A loss of more than 100 district staff
-“Disharmony in the school environment and community”
Western Heights Superintendent Mannix Barnes said he would only comment on the board’s vote over a live TV interview. News 9 did not accommodate his request.
WHPS Board of Education President Robert Everman did not respond to an email sent Friday afternoon requesting comment.
The state board voted unanimously to “strongly encourage” the district to offer an in-person learning option to students by April 1.
“At the forefront of our minds is the learning environment and the opportunity for students to be able to use the remaining weeks in the semester for onsite learning,” Hofmeister said. “We are hearing from families who want this.”
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