Here’s information from the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office:
On Thursday, March 28, 2013, at approximately 1:30pm (1330 hours) Tulsa County Sheriff’s Deputies/Dispatch received a call from an AT&T operator indicating that she had received an internet call placed from a person claiming to be a Union Student. The caller gave information suggesting that there were two individuals in the building, one with a gun and one with a bomb. The caller indicated that they had heard shots and heard a large amount of screaming coming from an area within the school.
Tulsa County Sheriff’s Deputies assigned as School Resource Officers responded to the area of the suggested incident within two minutes of receiving the information. Additional Tulsa County Sheriff’s Deputies responded along with numerous Tulsa Police Officers and conducted a complete and thorough search of the Union High School campus determining that the information they had received was false and that there was no threat to Union Students. This search was concluded at 2:14pm (1414 hours).
School Superintendent Dr. Burden and other Union School Officials are on site and will administratively be releasing students in conjunction with their regular school day. Union school officials will be putting out a press release informing parents of the administrative processes that took place.
Here’s information out of the House of Representatives about a rally Wednesday:
Common Core will make sweeping changes to the education system in Oklahoma and the nation, but the cost-benefit analysis of these changes has yet to be scrutinized, according to one state lawmaker.
A rally will be held at noon, Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in the Oklahoma State Capitol building, Second Floor, west hallway of the Supreme Court offices. This rally will be sponsored by state Rep. Gus Blackwell (R-Laverne) and Restore Oklahoma Public Education (R.O.P.E.). Blackwell, Glenda Murphey, the Reverend Paul Blair, Traci Montgomery and Jenni White will be speaking about problems with the Common Core agenda.
Common Core was written into state law in 2010. It was one of four education ‘reform’ measures necessary to make the state competitive for a federal Race to the Top, Common Core became law before the standards were available for review or any research had been accumulated on their efficacy or cost. Oklahoma never received that grant. Now that the Common Core and its testing arm, PARCC, are being instituted across the state, districts must have hundreds of thousands of dollars in eRate grants and writing school bond initiatives to fund these mandates. Oklahoma taxpayers are being asked to fund these reforms through property tax, cell phone plans and an increase in the state education budget. The total cost of which is still unknown.
The Common Core changes will also necessitate changes to the increased collection of personal student data, student testing, teacher evaluation, and school performance. At a conference attended by Blackwell and sponsored by Common Core advocates, in the summer of 2012, Common Core was likened to the hull of a ship sailing out of a harbor, while still under construction.
“The fact of the matter is: Few people know the extent of the changes, driven by the private groups advocating this change, which will result in large profits for a few private companies.” Blackwell said.
This year, Blackwell authored House Bill 1907 to create a task force to study the cost of Common Core. Though the bill passed its committee hearing unanimously, Blackwell learned it would not be heard in the state Senate. Blackwell was able to reach an agreement with House leadership authorizing a long-overdue extended legislative study on the costs of Common Core in Oklahoma schools.
“I do not think Oklahomans want to relinquish the local control of their schools or the state-guidance of standards to the nationalization of education, by a handful of elitists in Washington, D.C.,” Blackwell said. “The Common Core State Standards must be brought to bear under public scrutiny before we move further into its implementation. Taxpayers should not bear the brunt of a program for which we know little about, even three years after its inception.”
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb put out his monthly column recently. Here it is:
As parents we want our children to be healthy and to do well academically, but our first priority is for our children to be safe and secure during their school day. Following the tragic event in Newtown, Connecticut last December, Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman and House Speaker T.W. Shannon asked me to chair the Oklahoma Commission on School Security (OCSS). The OCSS was a statewide, nonpartisan commission comprised of 22 professionals from various fields including local school personnel, law enforcement, emergency response, mental health and parents.
I previously served as a special agent with the United States Secret Service. As state senator, I was the principal author of the Oklahoma School Security Act. School security has been a focus of mine for many years.
The OCSS members sacrificed their time and provided their expertise to conduct a several week comprehensive analysis of this very important issue. Commission meetings included speaker testimony and discussion on the various factors related to school security including but not limited to public safety, access control, physical assessments, training, mental health and local control.
The OCSS was given a March deadline in order for recommendations to be placed in bills this legislative session. After hearing expert testimony and completing their study, the OCSS released five policy recommendations in the 2013 Report of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security:
1) Formation of the Oklahoma School Security Institute (OSSI)
2) Establish a Mental Health First Aid Training Pilot Program
3) Amend and change state law to consolidate and require safety drills
4) Require the reporting of illegal firearms found on school property to local law enforcement
5) Establish a school security tip line
At the time of printing deadline, I am happy to report that the recommendations have received unanimous support in the State Senate and will now move to the State House for consideration.
No policy can prevent evil from occurring, but the OCSS’s hope is that these recommendations will mitigate and lessen the potential of future large scale school violence. We want our children to be not only healthy and thrive in our great state, but we want to make sure they remain safe and secure during their school day.
This came out of the House of Representatives today:
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Todd Thomsen today stressed the need for House Bill 1711 to be signed into law.
“Those arguing against House Bill 1711 say that legislators seeking to provide ‘local control’ to schools ‘could rob students’ of some unknown benefit,” said Thomsen, R-Ada. “What seems lost on those opposing this legislation is that our school districts have endured multiple years of reduced state and federal funding while at the same time being buried under a mountain of unfunded and underfunded mandates. There is no money left for innovation at the local level.”
Thomsen listed some of the more recently enacted unfunded and underfunded mandates:
· New Teacher / Leader Evaluation System
· Mandatory Remediation for Elementary Students Struggling to Read at Grade Level
· Mandatory Remediation for High School Students Failing Graduation Exams
· Implementation of the National Common Core State Standards
· Grading Schools on an A-F Scale
“Each of the mandates listed above have a significant cost that the state has pushed onto school districts,” Thomsen said. “House Bill 1711 has turned the attention of the Legislature toward providing sufficient resources to ensure proper implementation of the important education reforms that have been enacted.”
Thomsen noted that in February, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin was in Washington, D.C., as part of her duties as vice chair of the National Governors Association. The governor asked that President Obama and the Congress “relax those [federal] mandates [and] give us some leeway.” While in Washington, Fallin was quoted as saying, “Don’t balance the federal budget on the backs of state governments.”
“Organizations representing school boards, school administrators and teachers have come together to support House Bill 1711 using the same message that Governor Fallin used in Washington, D.C.,” Thomsen said. “The plea of these groups is that the time has come for our state to recognize that we cannot continue to push unfunded mandates on schools while at the same time balancing our state’s budget on the backs of school districts.
“I support Governor Fallin’s belief that our state should neither be used to balance the federal budget nor bear the price of unfunded federal mandates. When it comes to our school districts here in Oklahoma, the State Legislature should provide that same leeway to locally elected school boards.
“Those closest to our children understand what is needed and what can be afforded at the local school district level. House Bill 1711 provides parents, elected school boards and locally employed educators the flexibility to free up funds and use them in a more meaningful way that ultimately leads to better education outcomes for the students of Oklahoma.”
Here’s news out of the House of Representatives:
Legislation that would discourage “abusive and frivolous” lawsuits by schools districts passed out of the House of Representatives today and now heads to the Senate.
House Bill 2160, by State Rep. Jason Nelson, would require school districts to pay students’ and parents’ court costs and attorney fees when they initiate civil action or proceedings against students or parents.
“We saw a disgusting abuse of power when the leaders of Jenks and Union schools targeted the parents of special-needs children with a completely bogus lawsuit that could only be understood as an intimidation tactic,” said Nelson, R-Oklahoma City. “I’ve visited with numerous people who shudder at the idea of a school district suing parents. These two districts eventually lost the case upon appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, but it still angers me that they put these families through such an ordeal. The only thing that the parents could have been guilty of was doing what they thought was best for their child with special needs.”
The Jenks and Union school boards voted to sue the state attorney general to challenge the successful Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program Act. They never filed that lawsuit, but instead, without ever specifically voting to do so, sued parents who legally obtained scholarships through the new program.
“These two school boards had earlier voted to ignore the new State law and later voted to sue the attorney general to get their question in front of a judge,” Nelson said. “When that didn’t work they sued the parents without ever voting to do so specifically. They left that decision to the school superintendent and the school’s law firm. They didn’t even have the courage to vote in a board meeting to sue parents – it was shameful.”
Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships allow a student with a disability (such as Down syndrome or Autism) who has an individualized education program (IEP) to receive state-funded scholarships to attend a private school that parents believe can better serve their child. The scholarships come from the amount of money already designated for the education of those children.
Nelson said his legislation would deter schools from filing such lawsuits, which are inappropriate because schools serve the public and should not be persecuting students and parents.
“I never doubted that the lawsuit was inappropriate and the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling confirmed that a school board should not be suing parents. My bill says that if a school district sues parents again, they will have to pay the court and attorney costs,” Nelson said.
HB 2160 passed out of the House by a vote of 55-37. The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Read more about it in the paper or on NewsOK.com on Tuesday, but in the mean time, here’s a news release from the district now:
When the 2013-2014 school year starts on August 5, 2013 all 74 school sites will require school uniforms. In a 5 to3 vote, the Oklahoma City Public School District Board of Education approved the plan to adopt a uniform policy for every school, prior to the board’s vote 17 out of 74 schools in the district did not require uniforms.
In September of last year, the Oklahoma City Public School District’s Dress Code regulation was suspended while a task force committee researched and participated in focus groups to develop a recommendation on a revised dress code for the district.
The committee made up of district administrators, teachers, parents, students, attorneys and the Oklahoma City Police Department met regularly to discuss the issue and devise a plan. The task force recommended that the Board of Education adopt a uniform policy at every school.
“This is a great idea for the students of OKCPS,” said Anna King, OK PTA President and former OKCPS District PTA President. “It shows that the district is united and working as a team, it supports fairness for all district students and continuity. I am hopeful more businesses, civic organizations and churches will support this new policy by providing discounts, uniform donation drives and clothing closets to help the students at the 17 schools transition to uniforms next year.”
Under the new uniform policy each school can designate the colors and types of shirts which may be worn, but one choice must be white and each school. The schools can also select the colors for pants, slacks, shirts, skorts or dresses but must allow khaki pants; this helps address the district’s high mobility rate among students.
Students who violate the policy may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the district’s Student Code of Conduct. Students enrolling in OKCPS for the first time during the school year shall be granted a 20 day grace period before being required to comply.
“We are really proud of the hard work from the task force in developing this policy, they were all very thorough in addressing the concerns of parents, students, staff and the community,” said Sandra Park, OKCPS Deputy Superintendent.