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Seniors at Oklahoma City's Douglass High School focus on finishing

Some Douglass High School students spent the first week of their winter break in the classroom, trying to catch up after years of academic mismanagement left them behind. The students talk about how they're doing and how far they have to go.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Modified: December 21, 2012 at 8:38 pm •  Published: December 22, 2012

Tre' Banks found out this month that graduating from high school may be harder than he thought.

Banks is missing some credits — a problem for most of the 107 seniors at Oklahoma City's Douglass High School. Only 20 students are on track to graduate this May, according to a state audit, and Banks isn't one of them.

“I was mad,” Banks said, “but I know I've got to do it anyway. Being mad's not going to change anything.”

Years of academic mismanagement have left students with gaps in their transcripts, according to a school district investigation.

So instead of spending this week on winter break like thousands of other Oklahoma City students, Banks was at school, cramming a semester's worth of physical science lessons into one long week.

A scandal involving grade-fixing and absence fraud ended with the former principal of Douglass High School, Brian Staples, resigning last month. But the investigation into the allegations against Staples uncovered broader academic mismanagement.

Oklahoma City Public Schools officials asked state Education Department workers to take a look at the transcripts of all the Douglass High School seniors and juniors.

For the seniors to graduate on time, everyone has to hustle. District officials are giving students options, like after-school tutoring, Saturday school, summer school and online courses.

This week, the state Board of Education gave the district the go-ahead for night school. And more intensive intersession classes like the ones this week are planned for spring break.

Also, the master class schedule for the spring is shifting to accommodate student needs, said Linda Ware Toure, executive director of secondary school and reform for Oklahoma City. Classes like study hall are being swapped for core courses.

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