Tre' Banks found out this month that graduating from high school may be harder than he thought.
Banks is missing some credits — a problem for most of the 107 seniors at Oklahoma City's Douglass High School. Only 20 students are on track to graduate this May, according to a state audit, and Banks isn't one of them.
“I was mad,” Banks said, “but I know I've got to do it anyway. Being mad's not going to change anything.”
Years of academic mismanagement have left students with gaps in their transcripts, according to a school district investigation.
So instead of spending this week on winter break like thousands of other Oklahoma City students, Banks was at school, cramming a semester's worth of physical science lessons into one long week.
A scandal involving grade-fixing and absence fraud ended with the former principal of Douglass High School, Brian Staples, resigning last month. But the investigation into the allegations against Staples uncovered broader academic mismanagement.
Oklahoma City Public Schools officials asked state Education Department workers to take a look at the transcripts of all the Douglass High School seniors and juniors.
For the seniors to graduate on time, everyone has to hustle. District officials are giving students options, like after-school tutoring, Saturday school, summer school and online courses.
This week, the state Board of Education gave the district the go-ahead for night school. And more intensive intersession classes like the ones this week are planned for spring break.
Also, the master class schedule for the spring is shifting to accommodate student needs, said Linda Ware Toure, executive director of secondary school and reform for Oklahoma City. Classes like study hall are being swapped for core courses.
“We discussed, first of all, what gaps the students have and then we looked at what we could do with the master schedule,” Toure said. “ ... The first plan was to deal with the master schedule to ... help students get this done during the regular school day.”
For senior Dasheri Adams, there isn't enough time during the school day to catch up. She spent this week in physical science, too.
“It's a lot, but I like it because you're getting 16 weeks into one week,” Adams said.
Adams recently found out she was missing physical science, Oklahoma history and geography credits.
“It was difficult times,” she said.
But, she said, she was glad to find out in December, instead of May.
Adams is young for her grade because she took so many advanced classes. She'll graduate in May at 16 years old. She wants to study biology or physical therapy when she goes to college.
Adams is involved in plenty of extracurricular activities, such as cheerleading and helping out as a football and track manager. She works, too, at a movie theater. She doesn't plan to give anything up, even though there's extra pressure.
Even though students have been frustrated, most are focusing on finishing their work and graduating, Adams said.
“I haven't heard anybody say anything about dropping out,” Adams said. “You see people who didn't really talk to each other talk and try to help each other study.”