UPDATE: OKCPS’ new superintendent talks about controversial spending allegations

UPDATE 4/21/2014 7:45pm  The Oklahoma City Public School Board of Education announced late Monday evening they hired Robert Neu as the Oklahoma City Public School Superintendent.

His contract is effective July 1 and renewable annually for an initial three-year period.  He will be paid a $240,000 salary along with an annual $10,000 car allowance and $25,000 in annuities.

”This Board completed a thorough evaluation of our selected superintendent and met with several Federal Way Public School staff persons and community members during that process; Robert Neu comes to us highly recommended with a track record of implementing programs that are innovative and prepare students to perform in a global society. We are well aware of the legal difficulties the school board chairperson in Federal Way is experiencing right now; those issues are not related in any way to Robert Neu or the school district there.  As for the concerns regarding Federal Way Public Schools funding trips overseas; that was an action approved by the Board of Education not Robert Neu.  We are confident we have done our due diligence in selecting a capable and effective leader who is focused on moving this District forward.”  –Lynne Hardin, OKCPS Chairperson

Robert Nue and his Kelly wife have six school age children.

Nue will start working for the district officially sometime in July but he will begin the process of transitioning to Oklahoma City starting in late May or June.

OKLAHOMA CITY – He hasn’t been officially announced, but there is already controversy surrounding soon-to-be Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu.

Neu is the Superintendent in Federal Way, Washington, about 25 miles south of Seattle.

Their website describes Neu as “an amazingly creative thinker who understands the growing challenges of education.”

However, a couple of his expensive overseas business trips on taxpayer money are being questioned.

Mike Turpen, NewsChannel 4 Flashpoint Commentator said, “I certainly believe that everybody should have the opportunity to turn the page and write a new chapter.”

Neu is defending a 19-day trip to Europe that he and four others from the Federal Way school district took in September.

The price tag was reportedly $60,700.

Neu told the Federal Way Mirror the trip was “to equip our students with the skills to be successful in the global economy.”

“I’m sure somebody will explain to him that this is a very conservative part of the country, politically and fiscally,” Turpen said, “and that he should treat taxpayers’ nickels like manhole covers. Meaning that every nickel is a big, big deal.”

The paper says Neu also traveled with board member Tony Moore to China and Australia for 21 days last May at a cost of $33,351.

State Senator Ralph Shortey, who sits on the Senate Education Committee said, “If these kind of expenditures are made, well then it’s likely that the legislature will get involved.”

Shortey believes Oklahoma is bloated on administrative costs, saying expensive overseas trips won’t fly here.

“I know I’m going to make sure that our school dollars are spent here in Oklahoma and they’re spent properly,” Shortey said. “That they’re spent in the classroom and they can help bring our grades up. I think that’s what Oklahomans expect of us. They don’t expect us to take trips on taxpayers’ dollars.”

OKC Public Schools Spokesperson Tierney Tinnin released a statement saying: “The District has not obtained a signed contract for a new superintendent and the Board of Education has yet to approve a contract for a new superintendent. It is premature to discuss any candidates or offer any comments relating to a specific person at this time.”

One board member said Neu’s contract could be voted on in executive session Monday night, then approved in open session.