Community outraged after grieving students denied exemption from testing

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MOYERS, Okla. - The Moyers community is outraged over a decision they said the State Superintendent’s Office made over students not being exempt from testing.

It began with a horrific car crash where four people were killed.

Two of them were the parents of five children.

Two of those children are students at Moyers Public Schools.

The kids, now orphans, are grieving.

The school district asked the State Department of Education if the children could be exempt from their end of the year exams.

School officials say the department told them no, the grieving students could not be exempt.

Moyers Public Schools superintendent Donna Dudley was outraged at this decision.

Dudley was so frustrated that she turned to state lawmakers and the media.

She immediately gained support.

"I praise the decision and the courage of Donna Dudley the superintendent for standing up and doing what's right," said Sen. Jerry Ellis. "In my opinion this should have never been in question. This is terrible to not automatically give these kids an exemption."

Wednesday morning, lawmakers reversed their decision and granted the children exemption from their end of the year exams.

State Rep. Curtis McDaniel said, "Had we not applied the pressure this morning as we did, I fear those students would have been called on to test this week."

Some democrats say this is another example of bad judgment coming from the State Superintendent's Office.

They say that instead of common core, common sense should have been used.

At a press conference, Sen. Ellis expressed his opinions on Oklahoma's State Superintendent.

Ellis said, "Superintendent of schools Barresi needs to resign, start the bus, get her out of here and any other elected official that condoned Barresi's actions need to go with her."

State Superintendent Janet Barresi's Chief of Staff,  Joel Robinson fired back stating, "I think the call for resignation is obviously is a political statement."

He said Barresi did not personally make the decision to deny the students exemption.

In fact he said she didn't know about it until late Tuesday night and immediately reached out to Dudley.

In her own words Barresi talked about her husband dying suddenly and her own children being faced with standardized testing not long after.

Barresi said, "When your mind is in that much shock there is absolutely no way you can concentrate on school there's no way that you can possibly ask a child to do their best on an examination."

Barresi said before testing next year, her department will add more exemptions and make sure they are clearly explained.

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