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Lora Responds To Oklahoma City Principals' Concerns About Communication, Morale

Oklahoma City Public Schools Associate Superintendent Aurora Lora waits on Board of Education members to emerge from executive session during an April 25, 2016 meeting.
Emily Wendler
Oklahoma Public Media Exchange
Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent Aurora Lora

Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent Aurora Lora sent a long email Monday to campus administrators who say morale is low and the district's leadership isn't responding to their concerns.

More than 100 principals and assistant principals signed a letter read during the December 12 school board meeting that said OKCPS leaders are "non-communicative, ineffective, and exert control by force or fear" without collaboration.

Lora’s email said she didn’t have time to properly respond to the letter before the board meeting, but she wants to address it during the next board meeting.

The December 12 letter raised specific concerns about human resources, academic standards, infrastructure, and federal funding, and Lora’s email addressed those concerns, The Oklahoman’s Ben Felder reports:

"Have there been additional concerns since July 1 when all of these changes went into effect?" she asks in the email. "Are there specific concerns about our current HR investigator? I haven't heard about any specific issues since July 1, so if someone can share the most recent concerns since those changes took place on July 1, I would appreciate it." As for concerns raised about academic standards, Lora said, "I have confirmed that our OKCPS standards contain everything in the state standards, with three minor changes which should not negatively impact any student's success on state assessments. If anything, teaching our standards should better prepare students to be successful on state assessments." Lora also pledged to improve processes for principals to access Title 1 funds and paying maintenance workers more "so we can fill our vacancies and stop losing employees."

An attorney representing the building administrators said that response deflected responsibility. OKCPS board member Carrie Coppernoll told Felder she's happy both sides are communicating:

"I'm glad there's a dialogue, because for whatever reason there have been communication issues in the past," she said. "I'm glad the principals and Aurora are coming together to work it all out." Board member Bob Hammack, meanwhile, said he hopes Lora makes good on her "promises." "I think it's always troubling when people we rely on as a group voice their concern over the leadership of the district," he said. "These are people that the district relies on to operate every level of education at their school. "The superintendent has acknowledged some of the issues and in her emails promises to address them. This is one board member who hopes that she does just that."

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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