Students at Douglass High School will have the option of taking classes for up to 10 hours a day two days a week in the spring semester to fill in the gaps on their transcripts, members of the state Board of Education decided Wednesday.
Board members opted to give Oklahoma City Public Schools some leeway when it comes to class time at school.
An audit of transcripts at Douglass earlier this fall uncovered that most seniors were not on track to graduate. The crisis is the result of years of academic mismanagement, which was reported by an attorney the district hired to investigate the school.
The board's decision means some students could attend classes as regular students during the day and then again as alternative education students two evenings a week.
To facilitate this schedule, board members decided to waive a requirement that students in alternative education programs have to spend at least four hours and 12 minutes in school during the day, said Melissa White, executive director of counseling and Achieving Classroom Excellence for the state Education Department.
Under the waiver, Douglass High School will have night school for three hours after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Those three-hour sessions wouldn't have been long enough under existing rules.
The board also waived a rule that doesn't allow schools to have more than one school day within a 24-hour period.
“Those students that are going to that night school will also be enrolled as full-time students,” White said. “They're actually going to be going to school, in all actuality, for 10 hours.”
Compromise like this will help students get back on track to graduation, state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said after the board voted unanimously to grant both waivers.
“We're working with Oklahoma City to do what we can to ensure those students do graduate on time,” Barresi said.
The night school will meet from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. twice each week during the spring semester, said Linda Ware Toure, executive director of secondary school and reform for Oklahoma City.
Students will have just one class during that time block, Toure said.
“You don't have distractions,” Toure said. “You have fewer students. That content ... is covered in-depth.”
Attendance will still be required, she said. Class time missed will have to be made up. That's true for the other options the district is offering: winter break, spring break and summer school classes.
However, Toure said she still wants students to participate in activities they enjoy. She said many students feel a deep connection to the school through extracurricular programs, such as basketball or band.
“We will help them make up the time and the work,” she said. “We don't want students to sacrifice their love for activities, be it arts or athletics.”