A former Douglass High School assistant principal who was fired two years ago is hoping to take the reins of the Oklahoma City School Board.
Marcia Muhammad is challenging School Board Chairwoman Angela Monson, who was elected in 2009. Candidate filing for the city's three open school board positions closes Wednesday. The chairman spot is an at-large position.
Muhammad filed for the office on Tuesday, the second day of the three-day filing period. Her past could complicate her candidacy, however.
Muhammad pleaded guilty in 2001 to two felony counts of falsely obtaining food stamps. Her three-year sentence was deferred.
Candidates who have been convicted of felonies or of misdemeanors related to embezzlement are not eligible to serve as elected officials for 15 years after the sentence is served or appeals are exhausted, according to the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.
Muhammad said her attorney told her she is eligible to run because her sentence was deferred.
Criminal history doesn't preclude someone from filing for office, said Doug Sanderson, secretary of the Oklahoma County Election Board. Filing forms do not ask about criminal convictions, he said.
Muhammad's candidacy can only be challenged by her competitor or competitors. Monson was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
For this election, a challenge would have to be filed by 5 p.m. Friday. The fee is $250.
A public hearing would follow next week, and the challenger would have to prove Muhammad was ineligible, Sanderson said. A decision on the candidacy would be made by the election board president, vice president and Sanderson.
Sanderson said he could not comment on Muhammad's eligibility to run for office, though he did confirm she is a registered voter.
Muhammad was hired to work as the assistant principal of Northeast Academy in 2004 and then was transferred to Douglass High School in 2008. The Douglass principal, Brian Staples, objected to her transfer to his school after working with her previously at Northeast Academy.
In 2010, Muhammad was put on administrative leave. Shortly after, Staples was attacked in the school parking lot.
Staples recommended to the school board in June 2011 she be fired for disobedience, and she was.
Last year, Muhammad's son was arrested in connection with the attack on Staples. Controversy at Douglass did not end when Muhammad was fired, and Muhammad didn't disappear from the scene.
In June, the NAACP accused Staples of altering grades and attendance records, and an investigation followed.
Muhammad was among those leading the charge for Staples to be fired, and she and others protested outside the school for weeks. She filed a complaint against Staples with the U.S. Department of Education.
Staples resigned last month.
As district officials investigated the allegations against Staples, they requested an audit of Douglass seniors' transcripts by the state Education Department. Only 20 of 107 seniors were found to be on track to graduate in May, according to the audit findings.
Muhammad is calling for Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Karl Springer to be fired. But first, she said, she wants to defeat Monson for the chairwoman seat.
“We know our children aren't being educated,” she said. “I'm fighting for them to have an education.”