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“Stay strong,” Acting Oklahoma City schools superintendent sends note to employees

OKLAHOMA CITY – The acting superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools is stepping into her new role following the sudden resignation of Aurora Lora.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Public School District announced that Superintendent Aurora Lora had submitted her resignation to the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education.

“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.”

The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education unanimously accepted Lora’s resignation, and announced that Rebecca Kaye would serve as the acting superintendent until a new superintendent is found.

On Thursday, Kaye released a letter to employees in the district to provide a bit of understanding about the situation.

"Today is a day that we need to talk about feelings. I am sad. I suspect many of you are too. Or you might be angry or disappointed or just plain tired. And that's okay. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) look very similar, no matter what kind of loss we face as human beings. As Robert Frost wrote, "The only way out is through." I hope today that you know that I am holding each member of the OKCPS team in my heart. I can only imagine how hard it must be to have been through this kind of transition...over and over again.

I am also determined. I felt called to come here when I said "yes" to OKCPS in the fall of 2016 because my gut told me that this system had all the needed ingredients in place to prove that real, transformational change for kids can happen - no gimmicks and no magic wands. In the past 13 months, I have learned so much about this community, and I am even more sure today that we have what we need.

• We have incredible professionals in cafeterias, classrooms, gymnasiums, yellow buses and departments across this district who come to work with hearts for children.
• We have a school board that is united with us in the belief that we have work to do – meaningful, hard, important work – and that we have to find a way to do it together.
• We have a community that rallies, time and time again, to make remarkable things happen.
• We have families who entrust us with the sacred responsibility of caring for their most precious resource, day in and day out.
• Most importantly, we have 46,000 amazing students who blow me away every day with their brilliance, grace and resilience to adversity.

The wisdom we need is in this system. I appreciate you all, and I thank you for showing up for kids every day. As the proud parent of two flourishing Gatewood Gators, this is not just a job for me. You hold the future of my family and of our democracy in your hands. My top priority is to care for our team because I know this hurts. I need your help with that, so my charge to you today is this: take care of yourself and your colleagues. This is not easy work, even under the best of circumstances. Our hearts get broken a lot. The only way we can stay strong is to remember that we are in this together. Together we will heal. Together we will rise. Stay strong. I am here for you," she wrote.

Officials say the specific terms and conditions of Lora's resignation are still being negotiated, and will likely be presented to the school board later this month.

District officials say Lora was making $220,000 at the time of her resignation, so the school board will consider giving Kaye an increase in pay while she is taking on the responsibility of acting superintendent.

With Lora's resignation, the district will now search for its 12th superintendent in less than 18 years.