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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Adrian Anderson will be the next Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education member representing District 5 in the eastern part of the district.

Tuesday, Anderson earned 52.75% of the vote, and his opponent, Sharri Coleman, received 47.25%.

Having first been elected in 2010, Ruth Veales chose not to run this time leaving two newcomers to face off in that particular race. However, both candidates were well-known for their work with youth on the east side.

Free Press finally caught up with Anderson the next morning after the election.

Now a professional at Prudential, Anderson said he is a proud alumnus of Star Spencer High School and has been a varsity basketball coach since 2008.

Also, he worked five years in OKCPS with the Community Works organization to provide behavioral health services at Star Spencer HS and Rogers Middle School.

Anderson has school-age children who are now currently in OKCPS.

Previous committee work

Ruth Veales, who first won a seat representing the district in 2010, recruited Anderson to serve on a community advisory committee during the worst of times in her first five years on the board.

By 2015, the district was being investigated by the federal Education Department for suspending a disproportionate number of black and brown students in the previous decade.

Anderson said that he was one of several people Veales recruited to serve on the committee that solicited feedback and input from the community. The insights of Veales and the committee aided the district in devising a plan for correcting past bad practices when it came to suspensions and students loosing sometimes years of education because of them.

The agreement and plan for recovery put forward by the district was eventually approved by the the DOE because of changes the district had carried out.

Top issues

We asked the board member elect what he considered to be the top issues facing the district right now.

Anderson said that recovering from the learning losses during the lockdown and remote learning under COVID is the biggest set of issues.

“You know, from what I’m familiar with, working with my son going to Spencer Elementary, I know on an early education level, those kids being out most of the school year has created gaps from the beginning,” said Anderson.

We asked what he is hearing from parents in District 5 about their concerns.

Especially for parents of high school kids, the biggest concern is about whether their kids are on track to graduate, he said.

“Are they are they in a position to be successful while they’re in school?” he asked. “You know, based on what happened, [remote learning under COVID] set us back even more to where we have more challenges for our kids to be on track to graduate.”

Board chair comments

Free Press reached out to Paula Lewis, now in her second term as Board Chair after having first served as a board member for a term before that.

“I met him back when I first got on the board,” said Lewis. “And he’s just always been a solid voice. So I’m super excited to work with him. He’s gonna be a great guy.”

“And, he’s just always been a solid voice,” Lewis continued. “So I’m super excited to work with him. He’ll be a great board member.”

Coleman remarks on the loss

Coleman talked to Free Press once all precincts in District 5 were counted. “I have already congratulated my opponent,” she told us. “And, congratulations on being the new board member for District 5.”

As to her own campaign, she said, “we did everything we were supposed to do. I have nothing to hang my head for. I have nothing to be sorry for.”

sharri coleman
Sharri Coleman, candidate for OKCPS Board of Education April 2022. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

We asked if she believed the report by The Oklahoman that questioned her true residency in District 5 made any difference to the outcome of the campaign. Candidates must have residency not just in the school district but in the board district for which they are running.

“Oh, who knows,” she said. “You can never tell. So, for me to even try and figure that out is wasting my energies. You know, some things are worth giving energy to and then some you let it lie where it is.”

But, she didn’t seem to be letting that bother her much late Tuesday night.

Instead, she vowed to work “for the kids” no matter what and that “my love for kids still stays the same.”

“My favorite part about this was knocking on doors, … getting to meet the community,” said Coleman. “And so, if this has nothing else, [it is] a platform to turn around and re-engage with the community in some way.”

“I wish AD (Anderson) all the best to keep doing the work for the kids, like I’m going to continue to do. We may do it in two different arenas,” she said. “Point is, if we can help black and brown kids in district five and all across the city, that is worth it. It takes all of us to make it happen, right?”

Last Updated April 6, 2022, 1:18 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor