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Updated: July 26, 3:46 p.m.

Oklahoma City Public Schools announced Friday that they will move the planned SeeWorth alternative school program to the Putnam Heights building at N.W. 36th and N. Georgia.

The SeeWorth name will also change to “Putnam Heights Academy,” still under the leadership of newly-named principal Shane Nelson.

SeeWorth, Inc. changes course

Originally, it seemed that OKCPS was the one who left the deal. Indeed, they chose to change the name.

But, at a press conference Friday afternoon it was disclosed that July 23 SeeWorth, Inc. notified the district that they decided to keep the five-year lease on the property thus denying the district use of the property weeks before the planned start of school.

In May, when the problems with SeeWorth Academy first started to surface, the SeeWorth board let OKCPS know they would relinquish the charter and agreed to surrender the lease on the property at 126th and N. Kelley said OKCPS Superintendent Sean McDaniel.

“Just a few days ago, we were made aware that they had a change of heart, and that they were not willing to give up the lease to the property,” McDaniel said. “And so, we then went into full gear, trying to figure out what would we do with the 350 kids. And this was our landing spot.”

This comes just 17 days before the first day of school for the district.

However, because of the surprise move and the need to convert a former elementary into a school to accommodate students all the way up through high school age, the school will not open until August 21 instead of the district-wide opening date of August 12.

Plans have been underway and administrators for a newly organized SeeWorth alternative school had been named. Until Friday there were no indications that the program would not meet at the campus near NE 122 and N Kelley Ave in Oklahoma City.

Our sources say that the staff was told about the move Thursday, but that has not yet been confirmed by the district.

The McLaughlin Family Foundation owns the church-camp-like property and had expressed a readiness to let the district use it for the alternative program. But, then the foundation relayed the news to the district that SeeWorth, Inc. was going to keep the lease.

OKCPS Supt Sean McDaniel (L) answers questions during a press conference with Principal Shane Nelson on the campus of the newly-named Putnam Heights Academy. Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press.

Free Press broke this story early Friday morning and has continued to cover this breaking news and add updates to this story as the day progressed.

Previous coverage

Free Press was first to break the story that SeeWorth was in deep trouble with the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Oklahoma City Charter School SeeWorth Academy in serious trouble

Since then, we have covered the developments of the collapse of SeeWorth Academy charter school that had been authorized by OKCPS.

Unusual statements

At the last regular meeting of the OKCPS Board of Education, three key members of the SeeWorth Board made public comments to board members about SeeWorth.

Two of the SeeWorth board members who have been resistant to any press coverage of their process, Judge Barbara Swinton and LeeAnn Wilson, gave speeches to the OKCPS that seemed to presume SeeWorth would continue on with another school year as though no problems had occurred and as though the school would continue to do what it had done for the last 25 years.

The former SeeWorth Academy charter school had been under investigation by the Oklahoma State Department of Education for financial and special education irregularities which resulted in Janet Grigg, the superintendent, being fired.

The SeeWorth Board voted to surrender their charter back to OKCPS and dissolve the school, but maintained that the SeeWorth Foundation would continue on.

Senator Kay Floyd gave her remarks last and did talk directly and hopefully about the partnership with OKCPS, but Swinton and Wilson did not.

Both Wilson and Swinton left quickly after their speeches and gave no opportunity for the press to ask them questions.

After the meeting, district officials and board members claimed to not understand why the board members had made the statements.

Free Press will continue to update this story throughout the day. Watch this space.

Last Updated July 27, 2019, 1:57 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor