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Harrah superintendent retires amid criticism

The superintendent of Harrah Public Schools announced his retirement Monday amid public criticism over a defeated bond issue and computer purchasing practices.
by Randy Ellis Modified: March 12, 2013 at 10:06 pm •  Published: March 13, 2013

— The superintendent of Harrah Public Schools announced his retirement Monday, but said he plans to finish out the school year.

Dean Hughes, who will turn 62 later this month, has come under community criticism over computer purchasing practices and the Feb. 12 defeat of a proposed $36.11 million school bond issue. He said that had nothing to do with his decision to retire.

“I wanted to retire while my health is good and I can still enjoy life,” said Hughes, who stated he has been an educator for 34 years and Harrah's superintendent for 12 years.

Hughes said he has no desire to be a superintendent someplace else.

Harrah Mayor Larry Fryar is among those who have criticized Hughes' handling of the defeated bond issue.

Fryar said Tuesday that he thought school officials tried to slide the election by the public rather than working to make sure everyone was fully informed of the district's needs.

Fryar said he also has heard the criticism over the district's computer purchasing practices.

An anonymous Harrah resident sent The Oklahoman copies of school financial documents indicating the district had purchased more than $650,000 in computers and technological services since 2007, most from companies operated by Phillip Thompson, an information technology coordinator for the state's vocational technical system in southeastern Oklahoma.

The district paid Thompson $999.99 apiece for computers in many instances.

The anonymous resident questioned whether the same computers could have been purchased directly from Dell at prices $200 to $400 cheaper.

Contacted by telephone, Thompson said upset residents are failing to take into account that he added software to the computers like Microsoft Office and Deep Freeze that added hundreds of dollars to the price.

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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