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School board accepts OKCPS Superintendent Lora’s resignation; District chief of staff to take over

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education unanimously accepted superintendent Aurora Lora's resignation at a special board meeting Tuesday evening.

Board members voted 8-0, with Lora's resignation to be effective February 1. Lora submitted her resignation Tuesday morning. Current district chief of staff Rebecca Kaye will serve as the acting superintendent, also effective February 1. With Lora's resignation, the district will now search for its 12th superintendent in less than 18 years.

"Although leadership changes are difficult, we support and have confidence in the teachers, administrators, and staff who are steadfastly dedicated to providing the best possible educational experience for the 46,000 students who come through our doors every day," said board chair Paula Lewis after the meeting at district headquarters.

Lewis thanked Lora for her service to the district and wished her well, but wouldn't say if the board discussed the terms of her resignation. District staff said it didn't have specifics on the terms, but said that those will be available in the coming days.

"Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to serve the students and families of this community," said Lora in a statement Tuesday. "Please know that Oklahoma City will always hold a special place in my heart."

Lora was named interim superintendent in April 2016 after her predecessor, Robert Neu, was stripped of his duties by the board. Lora was later hired on as the district superintendent in July of that same year.

During her tenure, Lora faced budget crises, program cuts, staff turnover and proposed school closures. In her resignation letter, Lora highlighted these challenges, as well as a number of accomplishments.

Almost immediately after the board convened Tuesday, it went in to executive session to take up the resignation, spending nearly two hours behind closed doors. Board members then returned at around 8:00 p.m. and, without saying much, voted in favor of accepting the resignation.

The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, a non-profit group that supports the district, said it thanks Lora for her "service and wishes her well."

"No matter who becomes superintendent, we will continue to do what's best for the district's administrators, teachers and, especially, its students," said foundation president and CEO Mary Mélon in a statement.

Lora didn't provide a reason for her resignation, but said now is the time to step aside and allow for the school board to choose a new leader. However, the resignation comes after she posted on social media last week -- and later deleted and apologized for -- criticizing her school board.

"When you go on social media and criticize your employer, there's really no coming back from that," said Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers President Ed Allen after the Tuesday board meeting. "I told her she made the right decision."

Allen says there are a lot of problems that face the district and that work needs to be done to fix both what goes on behind classroom doors and as well as organizational problems the district faces at the top.

"We start over," said Allen. "We either break the cycle or we`re going to get what, I guess you could say, what we deserve."