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Embattled Crooked Oak School Board members refuse to step down because of excessive absences

Crooked Oak School Board members Chris Lindsey and Guadalupe Rodriguez claim race discrimination; shorthanded board is unable to vote on expenditures, school district official says.
by Tim Willert Modified: June 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm •  Published: June 23, 2014

Two members of the Crooked Oak school board who have come under fire for missing or arriving late to meetings claim to have been mistreated because of their race.

And a third member, the board president, believes someone outside the southeast Oklahoma City school district is directing Chris Lindsey and Guadalupe Rodriguez to not attend the meetings.

Lindsey, who is black, and Rodriguez, who is Hispanic, said they have no plans to resign, despite being confronted at Thursday night’s board meeting by angry parents, teachers and alumni seeking their ouster.

“Their lack of attendance has made it impossible for the district to meet its financial obligations,” said Michelle Boykin, the mother of three children who attend Crooked Oak schools.

Boykin is leading the charge to remove Lindsey and Rodriguez, who have missed more than 60 percent of the board’s last nine regular and special meetings and are frequently late when they do attend.

“In my opinion ... it would be the responsible thing to step down from (your) positions and leave these vacancies open to people who care enough about this district to make the meetings a priority,” she said. “If we prioritize attendance for the students of this district, we should prioritize attendance for the board members.”

Most who spoke criticized Lindsey and Rodriguez for failing to live up to standards set by their predecessors on the board of Crooked Oak Public Schools, a 1,200-student district near Eastern and SE 15,

“If you cannot put forth the effort, you need to get out,” speaker Amanda McBee said. “This is about our students and our teachers. This is an embarasment.”

The district couldn’t pay its bills or payroll in May because the school board did not have a majority of members present to approve the expenditures, staff member Linda Grange told dozens who attended the meeting.

Grange said the district has nearly $5 million in its bank account and is not in danger of closing “as long as we can get a quorum here every month and as long as our board can vote.”

“We don’t even care how they vote, just show up to vote,” she said. “We want them to care about our school (district).”

Until Thursday’s appointment of former member Katie Conway to fill a vacancy, the board had operated for about a month with four members.

Lindsey, who was late to Thursday’s meeting, accused administrators of intentionally scheduling meetings he would be unable to attend and intentionally provoking him in attempt to get him to react unprofessionally.

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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