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Western Heights teacher, after contentious school walkout board meeting, tenders resignation

OKLAHOMA CITY - In the wake of a contentious special school board meeting Monday, at least one Western Heights teacher says he will resign at the end of the year.

The board meeting, called to take up a vote on returning to school after the first day of the teacher walkout, lasted for hours as teachers, staff, students and parents voiced their pleas for an extension to fight for better education funding in the state. Ultimately, the board voted in favor of returning to school Tuesday.

"The final straw at Western Heights was the school board meeting," said Steve Wedel, an AP English literature and comprehension teacher. "This time, it was just too much."

During the meeting, some teachers said they would rather be fired by the district for violation of its contract if it meant helping districts across the state receive more funding.

Since the meeting, Wedel says he's just one of at least two other teachers that have tendered their resignation, effective at the end of the school year. News 4 has reached out to district superintendent Joe Kitchens for comment and have not yet heard back.

"What do you enjoy most about teaching at Western Heights?"

"The students," said Wedel. "We have fantastic students."

Wedel, 51, says when he told his students of his decision Thursday that it was extremely difficult choice. But that he -- just as others who spoke at the board meeting -- felt the district's support was pulled out from under teachers and staff.

"It sounded like everyone was geared up for a long-term thing," he said about the fight for better education funding, even after teachers received an average $6,100 pay raise, signed into law last week.

"The funding as well for the classroom. We’re teaching with books that are literally falling apart."

His decision comes as thousands of educators and supporters have converged on the capitol for the last five days, seeking legislators help to restore the millions of dollars of education cuts the state's enacted over the last decade. On Friday, the state's largest teacher's union said the walkout will continue Monday and the days ahead, unless the legislature removes the capital gains exemptions and Gov. Mary Fallin vetoes the repeal of a $50 million hotel/motel tax passed and signed into law last week.

Wedel will be in the classroom.

"I was born in Oklahoma, raised in Oklahoma and I really want to stay in Oklahoma."