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Today Oklahoma City Public Schools principals and Superintendent Aurora Lora renewed their commitment to resolve tensions brewing between the two parties this fall.

Free Press ran a story yesterday quoting at length from an on-the-record interview with Ed Allen, president of AFT-OKC, the union that represents the teachers of the district.

In that interview he speculated that there were “10 to 17” building administrators who were at risk of losing their jobs at the end of this school year. He also commented on his views of the strategy and motivations of the principals in the matter.

Lora and principals’ union president Gregory Frederick then met this afternoon and drafted a joint public statement (shown at the bottom of this story).

Lora and Frederick
Supt Aurora Lora (L) and principals’ union president Gregory Frederick. (provided by OKCPS Media Relations)

In it, Lora and Frederick committed “to coming together, face-to-face, to restore and reopen critical conversations essential to the success of Oklahoma City Public Schools.”

The statement went on to say,

“By continuing to build our relationship and strengthening our communication, we are optimistic about future collaboration. The past few weeks have been challenging, but our organizations remain focused on what’s best for the children of Oklahoma City. We look forward to working together in 2017.”

Mark Meyers, Director of Media Relations for OKCPS, told Free Press that Lora would not have any further statements for the media on this matter until after the holidays.

Background

Through their union, principals had asked Lora for a meeting just days before Thanksgiving to air differences. Lora reported to the OKCPS Board in regular session Dec. 12 that she had a “town-hall” style meeting with the principals before the holiday and then followed up by establishing a newsletter and other communication measures.

She reported that she had met with representatives of the union in another meeting after Thanksgiving.

Later in the meeting, during the “public comments” segment, Rob Redwine, attorney for the principals’ union read a letter of protest concerning what the principals’ regarded as poor treatment “by force and fear” from the district.

The letter asked the district to pay for independent investigators to be used in the event of a disciplinary action instead of the district’s Human Resources Department investigator.

It also called for the district to pay for an administrator’s attorney fees if a firing of an administrator was overturned by court action.

Other points in the letter called for renewed autonomy of building principals in deciding maintenance needs and the use of Title I funds. It also called for the district to use the state standards as written instead of as edited by district staff.

Frederick is principal of U.S. Grant High School and president of Local no. 79 of the American Federation of School Administrators. The union is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

20161220 OKCPS AFSA Statement
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