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Western Heights Superintendent Suspended Over Finance Reporting Violations, Safety Problems And Culture Of Bullying

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Western Heights
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Western Heights High School in southwest Oklahoma City, Okla.

The southwest Oklahoma City school district Western Heights was reprimanded by Oklahoma's State Board of Education Thursday afternoon. If the district doesn’t make drastic changes, a state takeover or annexation seem likely.

The state suspended the license of the district superintendent, Mannix Barnes, and demanded the local school board fix a litany of issues created under his leadership. They also requested an investigative audit of Western Heights similar to one conducted of Epic Charter Schools.

All these moves were suggested by state department legal counsel Brad Clark.

"There is a disharmony in that school district community, and it must be turned around," Clark said.

Clark laid out a number of financial reporting violations, safety problems and a culture of bullying that led to the loss of more than 100 employees and even more students over the course of two years.

Brianna Dodd pulled her son out of Western Heights because of the problems there.

"A lot more needs to happen, but this is… we couldn’t be more grateful. This is step one, but we can’t wait to see what else comes through," Dodd said.

Neither Barnes nor a representative for him showed up to the meeting. The district, under his leadership, is currently suing the state board for putting Western Heights on probation earlier this year.

Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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