About 200 students received a wake-up call after showing up late for classes Wednesday morning at U.S. Grant High School. They were locked out of the building, unable to attend school. In response to habitual tardiness, the administration at Grant High locked the doors promptly at 7:40 a.m. "We’re trying to communicate that we’re serious about school improvement in Oklahoma City schools,” Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Karl Springer said. "Am I apologetic about some of the problems that this has created for families? Yes, but at the same time, I applaud the sense of urgency that (Principal) Rodney Stearns has created.” Springer said that some parents had called the school district upset about the lockout.
Principal takes steps to get point acrossThis wasn’t Stearns’ first attempt to address the problem of students’ running late at his school. Springer said last week Stearns rounded up all tardy students and took them to the gym for a lecture on the importance of being on time. That was Feb. 9 and Springer said 400 students were tardy. "If Grant High School has 1,500 kids and if 400 of them are tardy to first hour, I’d say we’ve got a crisis,” Springer said. Springer said after that, the number of tardy students began to drop significantly, and by last Friday only 88 students were tardy. Grant High School is on the federal "Needs Improvement” list for schools, and Stearns was hired last year to help turn the school around. "We need to recognize that our students need to come to school on time, and we need to be proactive to make sure that happens,” Springer said. He said the tactic of locking students out of the school likely would not be used again, though. Springer said he would be monitoring the situation of both tardy and absent students at Grant to see whether improvements are happening at the school.