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Oklahoma Department Of Education Will Take Over Operations At Western Heights Public Schools

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

An Oklahoma County judge issued an order Thursday for Western Heights Public Schools' board to allow the state to take over operations of the district.

School is scheduled to start at Western Heights next week. But there are problems with buses and facilities that staff are scrambling to deal with.

"They are preparing right now, but there is much work to do, and we’re taking it hour by hour," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said.

Hofmeister said the state will no longer be handcuffed by a local school board that has limited what state officials could do in the Southwest Oklahoma City school district. But still, the resistance from local officials could lead to a delayed first day of school.

The state officially announced it was taking over the district in July, but the local school board had refused to comply without a judge's order, keeping the state from fully intervening.

State Department of Education officials accuse Western Heights leaders of financial reporting violations, creating 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.

The department had appointed longtime educator Monty Guthrie to head the district, and it appears he will finally do so without local resistance.

Robby Korth joined StateImpact Oklahoma in October 2019, focusing on education reporting.
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