OKLAHOMA CITY – New changes are coming to a program involving high school students at the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Earlier this month, officials announced that the Oklahoma House of Representatives High School Page Program would be suspended following an alleged assault.
‘Pages’ in the program are assigned to the Capitol for one week during the legislative session. The students work in the House chamber during daily session and also run errands for the representatives and House staff under strict supervision.
According to Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes, the male and female pages were staying at a hotel when the alleged assault occurred.
“We don’t have much information at this time. I can tell you and all I can tell you is the appropriate authorities are following up on the alleged incident,” House Speaker Charles McCall. “This has to do with an alleged incident between two minors that were part of this week’s Page program and we just don’t know any facts and it would be reckless for anybody in this in this body to comment.”
On Thursday, officials announced that a bipartisan task force has voted to restart the page program beginning next week.
The task force recommended moving to male only and female only weeks through the end of the legislative session as they continue to evaluate the program and study best practices from other states. The group also recommended increasing security for the program.
House Speaker Charles McCall announced that the program will restart beginning on Monday, April 1.
“We believe this is a program worth having, and that we should continue to provide these opportunities for our students,” said Task Force Chairman Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa. “We are taking the protection of our pages very seriously, and we are making immediate changes that will enhance safety for our participants. We will continue to look at the program from a long-term perspective as the task force meets over the next few weeks. The page program is a very valuable experience for our students who participate and it is a way for lawmakers to connect with their communities. We will continue to be diligent in examining our current procedures, but we don’t want to punish those young people who hope to learn about the Legislature and maybe develop a life-long appreciation for public service.”