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Moore tornado survivor is denied transfer to Plaza Towers Elementary School

Porter Trammell was in third grade when the May 20, 2013, tornado destroyed his home and school. His house hasn’t been rebuilt, and the school district rejected his mother’s request to transfer him back to the school.
by Jennifer Palmer Modified: August 24, 2014 at 8:40 pm •  Published: August 25, 2014

Porter Trammell, who survived the devastating tornado inside Plaza Towers Elementary School when he was in third grade, was not allowed to return to the newly rebuilt school this year.

Instead, he started fifth grade at a different school, without the classmates and teachers that provided a sliver of normalcy since the storm uprooted his life.

Porter’s house, less than a block from the school, was destroyed by the EF5 twister that tore through the area on May 20, 2013. Fifteen months later, the spot where the house once stood is still an empty lot, overgrown with weeds, with a small tree and bent fire hydrant.

Last year, Plaza Towers students occupied temporary quarters on the Central Junior High School campus on N Broadway.

The school district waived its transfer policy, allowing families time to rebuild their homes.

But it wasn’t enough time for the Trammells. They hired a builder in November, but he hasn’t started yet, Lora Trammell said. Each time she calls to ask when he’s going to begin, he says two weeks. It’s been nine months.

She enrolled Porter and his brother, Lucky, using the address of their rental home, which is in the Broadmoore Elementary district. Then, she requested a transfer to allow Porter and his brother to continue going to Plaza Towers.

“I just really thought they would take him back. I had no doubt — until they shot us down,” Trammell said.

This year, the school district is enforcing its policy of requiring students to enroll based on where they live, with transfers granted if there is space available, said Superintendent Robert Romines.

“There were provisions made, but that was for the ’13-’14 school year,” Romines said.

Romines said the district had quite a few families that came back to Plaza Towers under the transfer suspension last year.

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by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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