Oklahoma schools superintendent fears Douglass seniors will drop out

About three of four seniors at the troubled Oklahoma City school will have to take extra measures to graduate on time.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: December 11, 2012

Students will need to make up their credits in a hurry — through night classes, online coursework, after-school tutoring, summer school and classes during school breaks — to finish in May or this summer.

There is so much to be done, but Barresi said she wants students to know it can be accomplished.

“We just can't let them get so discouraged that this isn't worth it,” she said.

In addition to the senior class woes, an audit of the junior class was also troubling, state officials said. About 5 percent of the juniors are on track to graduate, though most of the problems can be fixed by simply adjusting student schedules.

“What the junior class, sophomore class and freshman class have on their side is time,” said Melissa White, executive director of counseling and ACE for the state Education Department. “Next year, make sure they're in classes they need for graduation in all seven hours. That seems like it will be the answer for most of these kiddos.”

Oklahoma City Superintendent Karl Springer has asked for an audit of freshman and sophomores as well.

After that, state workers will train Oklahoma City officials how to audit transcripts so the same thing can be replicated districtwide.

Officials ask for help

Teachers and administrators have met with students and parents individually, some at home, interim Principal Barbara Davis said.

They had to sign contracts that they agreed to work toward graduation.

“We're going to do the best we can,” Davis said, “and we're going to help every one of these kids be successful.”

But teachers and administrators will need help from churches, nonprofits, businesses and individuals to succeed, Barresi said.

Tutors and mentors are needed. Baby-sitting help will be in demand as well. Food, calling services, counseling, daytime staffing, transportation and other needs will all have to be addressed.

The short time between now and May will be a long, trying time for students, Barresi said.

But teachers and staff members will also be worn thin.

“They are individuals that will need a tremendous amount of support and a tremendous amount of help, along with the students,” she said. “They're going to get discouraged and they're going to get tired.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer or offer services can contact Melodie Fulmer, executive director of parent and community engagement for the state Education Department. Her number is 522-6225.