Oklahoma City School Board votes to close charter school

The Oklahoma City School Board voted 6-2 to close Marcus Garvey Leadership Charter School during a meeting that lasted into the night Tuesday.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Modified: May 28, 2013 at 11:56 pm •  Published: May 28, 2013

Quanetta Releford blinked back tears. She was out of a job, but that's wasn't the point. Her school was closed.

The Oklahoma City School Board voted 6-2 during a special meeting Tuesday night to close Marcus Garvey Leadership Charter School.

Releford, an arts teacher, was one of more than 200 people — mostly Marcus Garvey supporters — who packed the Oklahoma City Public Schools administration building auditorium. Many got up and walked away while school board members encouraged them to try to open a different school.

“We vote,” one man yelled as he walked out of the room.

“We pay our taxes,” a woman shouted as she stood up to leave.

District administrators allege poor academics and financial mismanagement. An attorney for the school said that's not the case. Both sides called foul on the other's interpretation of test scores.

Releford said her school was closed by people who never took the time to see what it was beyond test scores.

“They spent three seconds in each class, and you want to tell me about our school?” she said. “You want to base it all on test scores?”

Passionate response

People filled nearly every seat in the auditorium. During regular school board meetings, the room is nearly empty.

Some listened with chins on fists, nodding with eyes closed as they listened to teachers talk about the importance of the school. Others whispered quietly to one another when hearing facts about reading scores or math averages or science trends. Spectators occasionally groaned or cheered.

District officials said if the school is closed, the 180 or so students will be sent to traditional schools in the area.

Christian Williams, 9, said he doesn't want to go to another school. The third-grader said he doesn't know what school he'll go to next year.

“I don't want to lose my school,” he said. “I might not like it.”

Two of his younger siblings already go to Marcus Garvey, and another was supposed to start in prekindergarten next year. They all have had the same teachers and the same friends. His little sister, Paige, showed a letter she wrote to the school board just in case they wanted to hear from her.

“I love my school,” she wrote. “I want to keep my school open.”

The data debate

The audience murmured as testing data was shared by Pamela Watson Hunt, the associate director for elementary education.

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