The big question among students and parents Wednesday morning was “Where is Ms. Starr?”
Sue Starr is the popular principal of Northeast High School in Oklahoma City Public Schools on the east side of Oklahoma City.
But parents, teachers and students fear district administration may be trying to fire her.
The district has now partially confirmed her status to Free Press after we sent questions Wednesday morning.
The district confirmed at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday that she is “taking leave and is out of the building.”
This comes after rumors began to fly Tuesday and Wednesday about Starr’s status.
Some teachers reported seeing her escorted out of the building by district security guards Monday after a student protest outside the offices of Superintendent Aurora Lora.
Students were protesting the overcrowding at NEHS since district administration appropriated parts of the ground floor of the building until the new offices at 615 N. Classen are completed.
Students say they have not seen Starr since Monday afternoon and fear the district may fire her.
Beth Harrison, communications chief for the district, confirmed Starr’s absence from NEHS.
“In the principal’s absence, Angela Lewis, currently serving as an Assistant Principal at Oklahoma Centennial Mid-High School, will step in to handle school-related needs,” said Harrison in an email.
When Free Press asked who the acting principal was through email at 11:58 Wednesday, Harrison originally said that Verna Martin, was acting principal of Northeast High School.
Martin is one of six instructional leadership directors (ILD’s) “who supervise and provide support to school principals throughout the district,” according to the district website.
Then, at 2:30 p.m. Harrison sent the email about Lewis becoming the acting principal.
Popular with students and parents, Starr has been in administration at various levels at NEHS for several years.
She took an active part in the Northeast Task Force that met to strategize about the future not only of NEHS, but schools on the northeast side of Oklahoma City.
Students and parents know her to be an engaged, active and visible presence both during school hours and evenings when the Parent-Teacher-Student Association meets as well as sporting events.
So, when students did not see her at all over the last two days, questions started to rise about Starr’s status.
Free Press interviewed Superintendent Aurora Lora Monday night after the Board of Education meeting about the NEHS situation.
Students and parents fear that Starr is being disciplined or fired because of a set of circumstances beyond her control.
At least one parent is concerned for Starr, also fearing that she will be punished for not heading off a student protest Monday midday.
“Some of us feel bad for Ms. Starr,” Yolanda Claryce Shelton told Free Press. “We feel like she is caught in the middle in this situation and is being blamed for the protest.”
The group requested central office administration come to a meeting last week but they did not come, sending Starr with a message that administrators did not want a planned protest and would only meet with students alone according to Shelton.
Shelton was at the meeting and said the message sent through Starr was that the administrators wanted to meet with the students but not students and parents, both.
Students then held their protest in front of Lora’s office at NEHS at noon Monday.
The complete statement from the district on the matter is as follows:
“OKCPS Leadership has been made aware of concerns related to the management, safety and culture of Northeast Academy and has had discussions with student leaders to address some of their concerns. Currently, Ms. Starr, the Principal of Northeast Academy, is taking leave and is out of the building. In the principal’s absence, Angela Lewis, currently serving as an Assistant Principal at Oklahoma Centennial Mid-High School, will step in to handle school-related needs. As always, OKCPS is committed to providing the very best educational experience for our students.”
This is a developing story. Updates or new stories will be added later.