Oklahoma City school administrator's resignation has parents, community leaders asking for investigation

BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: February 19, 2013
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A group of parents, students and community leaders tried to speak Monday night at the Oklahoma City School Board meeting in support of an assistant principal who said she was forced to resign.

Hope Alvarez resigned from Roosevelt Middle School for “personal reasons,” according to a termination card she filled out Jan. 24. She did not submit a resignation letter, according to a district document.

Alvarez said in a written statement provided to The Oklahoman that she was forced to resign after she had planned to teach English-language classes to parents in evening hours. She said she was told teaching the class for a contractor would have been a conflict of interest, so she never did.

She said she was told to resign by Roosevelt Principal Michelle Pontikos and Chris Caram, the director for federal School Improvement Grants for the district.

“I felt I was treated unprofessionally and bullied into a situation that left me little recourse but to sign the resignation as they demanded,” Alvarez wrote.

District officials declined to comment about Alvarez, citing personnel laws.

Several people, including community leaders and parents, signed up to speak on Alvarez's behalf at the school board meeting Monday.

Ed Romo, representing the League of United Latin American Citizens, asked the school board to investigate Alvarez's resignation.

“We're concerned that Ms. Hope Alvarez may have been unjustly forced to resign,” Romo said. “There's evidence.”

As Romo began to discuss the circumstances, he was cut off by District 6 board member Jay Means, who said detailed discussion of the situation could affect a possible investigation.

The district's attorney, Tammy Carter, said discussing specific employees was against the rules. Romo was told to stop talking.

“It is abnormal,” Carter said. “This is the board's meeting. It is abnormal for the audience to participate in this way.”

Superintendent Karl Springer told Romo he would contact him Tuesday.

Wilfredo Santos-Rivera, a former school board member, told the board stifling comment was inappropriate.

“Perhaps you might entertain considering modifying the process,” Santos-Rivera said. “I think it's OK for the board members not to respond, but I think it's OK for the citizens to say whatever they want. Open it up. As long as you don't respond, I think that's OK. That's good democracy.”

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AT A GLANCE

CONTRACTS AWARDED

The Oklahoma City School Board awarded several contracts at its meeting Monday night, including:

• Commercial Roofing Solutions, $706,000 for a new roof at Buchanan Elementary, 4126 NW 18.

• Oklahoma Roofing, $647,000 for a new roof at Hillcrest Elementary, 6421 S Miller.

• Buddy's Produce, $250,000 in additional funding for produce. The original contract was for $2.2 million.

• Greenwood Publishing, also known as Heinemann, $200,000 for literacy intervention materials for kindergartners at some schools throughout the district. The original contract was for $28,000.

• Metropolitan Custodial Service, $114,000 for Cesar Chavez Elementary, 600 SE Grand.

• Eales Electronics Corp., $75,000 for fire alarm inspection and repair.

• Edu Skills, $5,000 for three days of professional training at Northwest Classen High School, 2801 NW 27.

STAFF WRITER CARRIE COPPERNOLL

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