National News

OKC superintendent recommends closing school 'in crisis'

Posted June 22

— Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Aurora Lora is recommending the temporary closure of North Highland Elementary, the district confirmed Wednesday night.

The school board will meet Monday night to consider closing the school at 8400 N Robinson for the 2017-18 year, which begins Aug. 1.

Details of the proposed closure were shared prematurely with parents and staff by a board member, Chairwoman Paula Lewis told The Oklahoman.

"I'm really disappointed that the information was shared with the public before the proposal was even final or even added to the agenda for board review," Lewis said. "Unfortunately, one member of my board shared information that wasn't completed or finalized."

Lewis apologized for the leak, calling it "inappropriate."

"It's not OK in any way, shape or form," she said.

If the closure is approved, students residing within the North Highland boundary would be reassigned to nearby Britton Elementary, 1215 NW 95.

"It has become apparent that there is no possible scenario at North Highland that is good for students," Lora said in a statement. "This school is in crisis, and drastic change will be required to improve the negative culture. Our students deserve nothing less."

Principal Anita Jones was recently reassigned to another school as an assistant principal, and Lora said there are "no solid prospects for the position."

Lora also said the school's office staff has resigned and only four core teachers are scheduled to return for the coming year.

The school is one of several investigated by the district in recent weeks for allegations of employee misconduct.

Jones's reassignment was not related to the investigation, officials said.

A spokeswoman declined to comment when asked if the resignations of office staff were related to the investigation.

If the closure is approved, Britton Elementary would receive additional supports earmarked for North Highland that would result in two full-time counselors, two full-time social workers and two assistant principals in the coming year.

"Although this proposal is not ideal, I believe this is the only option that provides a chance for students at North Highland to have a positive experience next year," Lora said. "This is just a temporary solution."

Lora said the district will reassess the future of North Highland during a demographic study and redistricting process planned for the fall.

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