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A powerful nonprofit that controlled the founding and the latest actions of John Rex Charter Elementary in downtown Oklahoma City remains somewhat of a mystery.

OKC Quality Schools, Inc. does not publish a list of its board members or general membership. Its meetings are held in private. It does not officially raise or give any money.

Yet, the organization wields considerable power over John Rex Charter Elementary in downtown Oklahoma City.

Monday, without any public deliberation, the organization appointed former Oklahoma City mayor Kirk Humphreys back onto the John Rex Charter School board filling one of the six seats on the board appointed by the organization.

Kirk Humphreys takes seat after decision by OKC Quality Schools (Brett Dickerson)
Kirk Humphreys takes seat after decision by OKC Quality Schools (Brett Dickerson)

The action came after a controversy resulted in Humphreys resigning from the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents and subsequent removal from the John Rex board weeks before.

His position on the John Rex board was as one of two representatives of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. The university is the official sponsor of John Rex.

Some parents who had called for his resignation from the John Rex board were upset, believing that Humphreys was using his connections with powerful downtown interests to get himself reappointed to the board.

Humphreys was one of the founders of OKC Quality Schools in 2010 and is thought to still be on the group’s board of directors.

By the original agreement when the school was formed, OKC Quality Schools and Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education appoint six members each to the John Rex board.

With the two from OU, those 14 then choose three more members to make up the 17.

What purpose?

Bob Ross, with the Inasmuch Foundation and one of the John Rex Board members, tried to explain a little about OKC Quality Schools at the end of the board meeting Monday night.

He was one of the founders of OKC Quality Schools and so tried to ease the minds of those who had questions about the mysterious group.

“As an entity, we have only one duty,” said Ross. “We don’t raise money. We don’t do anything except appoint six people to this board. So it’s a singular purpose.”

Who are they?

Free Press looked up OKC Quality Schools, Inc. incorporation documents on file with the Oklahoma Secretary of State which showed July 21, 2010, as the date of incorporation.

Three names are listed as the founding principals:

• J. Larry Nichols, 20 N. Broadway, Oklahoma City
• Kirk Humphreys, 215 S. Walker, Oklahoma City
• Robert J. Ross, 210 Park Avenue, Oklahoma City

The listed agent is Roger A. Strong with the Crowe and Dunlevy law firm in Oklahoma City.

The original board of directors is listed in the incorporation documents as:

• Robert J. Ross, Inasmuch Foundation
• Joe Clytus, Utilities Information Service
• Kirk Humphreys
• Stanley Hupfeld, Integris
• Xavier Neira, Manhattan Construction
• J. Larry Nichols
• Bond Payne, Heritage Trust
• Lyndon Taylor, Devon Energy
• Mary H. Tolbert, Crowe and Dunlevy

The registered agent changed August 29, 2014, to Eric S. Fisher.

Another list

In an August 2010 story in Oklahoma Gazette, a detailed list is included which is – if accurate – even more of a who’s who of downtown influencers.

• Leslie Batchelor, Center for Economic Development Law
• *Joe Clytus, Utilities Information Service
• Danielle Coats, Wilson School Parent
• Lori Dickinson, OKC Public Schools Foundation
• Amy Feighny, Christ the King Catholic School
• Lyn Hester, Integris Health
• *Kirk Humphreys, Humphreys Company
• *Stanley Hupfeld, Integris Families Foundation
• Pastor M.L. Jemison, St. John Missionary Baptist Church, Christian Heritage Academy
• Willa Johnson, County Commissioner District 1
• Jesse Langston, OG&E
• Louisa McCune-Elmore, Oklahoma Today
• Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, US District Court Western District of Oklahoma
• *Xavier Neira, Manhattan Construction
• *Larry Nichols, Devon Energy
• *Bond Payne, Heritage Trust
• Nick Preftakes, Precor Realty Advisors
• Jessica Reineke, Westminster School
• *Teresa Rose, Chesapeake Energy
• *Bob Ross, Inasmuch Foundation
• Bob Spinks, United Way of Metro OKC
• *Lyndon Taylor, Devon Energy
• Valerie Thompson, Urban League of Greater Oklahoma
• *Molly Tolbert, Crowe & Dunlevy
• Tony Tyler, Tyler Media
• Trent Ward, Tom L. Ward Family Foundation
• Alba Weaver, OG&E

Names with asterisks were listed as the “executive committee.”

Intent

After the John Rex board meeting Monday night, Bob Ross, the same Robert J. Ross on the legal documents for the group, talked with Free Press about the organization’s future plans for transparency.

“We’re going to bring that up,” Ross said about OKC Quality Schools’ next meeting.

His next statement left a question about whether the organization’s original agreement with its own board was to keep names from the public.

“What I want to do is get everyone confirmed that they want to be on the board going forward and once they say that, then we are going to list the names on the website. There’s no reason not to,” Ross said.

Background

Humphreys had previously been on the board as an appointee of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents but was removed when he resigned from the Regents Jan. 3 over statements he made on a local TV opinion show where he is one of the weekly hosts.

His comments seemed to equate homosexuality with illegal adult/child sex.

A number of John Rex parents opposed his continuing on the board of the school, as did the chair of Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education, Paula Lewis.

But at the last OKCPS board meeting those parents opposed and another group made up of five parents and the rest from the community came to support Humphreys.

Monday night three parents spoke for Humphreys and three spoke in opposition to his returning to the board, even though the decision had already been made by OKC Quality Schools.


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