State Says Costly Legal Battle Harms Vulnerable Students At Western Heights


Friday, July 30th 2021, 7:40 pm
By: Augusta McDonnell


OKLAHOMA CITY -

Western Heights Board of Education’s legal counsel filed an order to stop a judge from ordering the board to submit to the authority of the state Board of Education. 

An objection to the state’s emergency order filed this week cited a technical issue with the filing process. 

But the state filed a response in court documents with some strong language. 

The state said in court documents that the district’s actions are unprecedented costly to the public, and “to make it worse, these actors are doing it all to the detriment of children, more than 60% of whom are minority and 90% of whom are economically disadvantaged.”

When the district discontinued its nutrition program while kids were learning from home -- it meant that some kids who relied on meals from the school were not going to eat. 

This was one of the complaints the state listed when the board of education moved to put the district on probation in April. 

One Western Heights parent, Magaly Rivas, has been working to help Hispanic parents who don’t understand English access school materials that aren’t always translated. 

“They just don’t know, they don’t know where their tax dollars are going, they don’t know what is going on with the school, they don’t know how to go in and enroll their children into school,” Rivas said. 

A recent statistic shows that 41% of the district’s students are Hispanic, with parents who may have been in the dark as the state says issues developed at Western Heights leading up to the district’s ongoing probation.

“I feel like if everybody knew what was going on, they would step in more, and they would participate more, in actually helping better the school,” she said. 

On Monday, a judge will rule on the district’s objection, and the state’s emergency order to enforce the state’s authority. 

This means -- the school board could face contempt of court if they do not work to fulfill the conditions of the district’s probation.