SPERRY — An "out-of-control” school board is largely to blame for the departure of at least 40 teachers and administrators from the Sperry School District since the fall of 2007, former and outgoing staff members say.
Former Superintendent Jerry Burd is among six administrators included in that total. He resigned after the 2007-08 school year, having spent 13 years at the post.
"It’s just a shame for the kids,” Burd said. "It’s a great community. I had 26 years there. Twenty-four were like a honeymoon, and the last two were like divorce court.”
During his tenure as superintendent, Burd said, the typical staff turnover was three to five employees per year. He attributes the recent exodus to a school board that has welcomed five new members since 2006.
"That’s probably the most out-of-control board right now across the state of Oklahoma, as far as running the day-to-day operation of the school,” Burd said. "I thought it was me. But it wasn’t me, as I see it. It was more about they wanted power, and I wouldn’t have it.”
Burd was to be replaced by Don Raleigh, who was then assistant superintendent. But Raleigh took the Pryor Public Schools superintendent post after the Sperry board balked at hiring James White, who was the high school principal, as assistant superintendent, Burd said.
White is now an assistant state superintendent for Oklahoma’s Department of Education.
Last week, Rayma Harchar became the third superintendent to leave Sperry in the past year. She told her staffers in an e-mail that her "vision and goals do not align with those of the school board.”
After the board voted 4-1 to accept an immediate resignation agreement with Harchar on April 23, the panel’s newest member and sole dissenter on the agenda item, Jeff Carter, spoke out.
Carter told the board he was concerned about this year’s transfer of 50 to 60 students from the district, as well as the school’s ability to attract quality teachers.