EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – Since the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, Edmond Public Schools has confirmed 150 employees have resigned.
An ongoing problem for one school in particular: Sunset Elementary.
News 4 has spoke with several parents who said their child’s classroom has had a revolving door of teachers.
Edmond Public Schools Director of Communications, Susan Parks-Schlepp told KFOR Sunset Elementary has lost 11 employees this school year.
Of those 11, seven were certified teachers, two were support staff and two were long-term substitutes.
In total, Parks-Schlepp said EPS has had 95 support staff and 55 certified teachers resign this school year.
Parks-Schlepp said EPS has more than 1,500 employed teachers right now.
As a result of the inconsistency of teachers, parents told KFOR it’s had a negative impact on their child.
Norris Dupré has a fourth grade daughter at Sunset Elementary.
He said she was excited to be part of a new school and meet her new teacher.
“When school started, we find out that they wanted to hire another fourth grade teacher and so my daughter was in the new class, but they didn’t have anybody yet. She spent the first two weeks of school with substitutes, but it wasn’t, from what I heard, it wasn’t even substitute teachers. It was like the librarian or people from the office or just whoever they had on hand,” said Dupré.
The third week of school rolled around and the new teacher shows up.
Parks-Schlepp confirmed the teacher was a “student teacher” doing early-release with the supervision of a certified teacher.
Come November 21 though, that teacher had resigned to move to another state, according to an email sent out to parents.
Dupré said the weeks following that teacher’s resignation were filled with different substitutes, more office staff, and librarians supervising his daughter’s class.
“My daughter had come to hate school and she used to love going to school. She loved the coursework, now she dreaded doing anything. She was really worried about her own academic progress, which I don’t feel like a fourth grader should be worried about, and she was just not her happy usual self,” he added.
Dupré explained he addressed these concerns with Sunset Elementary administration in which he said he was told they’d check on her to make sure she was adjusting.
In a follow-up meeting about those check ups, Dupré said administration described her as “quiet in class” which didn’t inspire confidence as he said his daughter is typically very sociable.
“It’s troubling,” said Dupré.
Another concern recently popping up for Dupré is the lack of grades for his daughter.
A note was sent home this month to which parents/guardians were told the second nine-weeks worth of grades were not reported.
“Instead of filling the grade card with scores that may not be a true representation of student performance, we have opted to omit this period and begin reporting again at the end of the third nine-weeks,” the letter read.
This is the same letter KFOR aired January 23, but that one was for a kindergarten class.
EPS confirms two kindergarten classes and one fourth grade class didn’t receive grades for the 2nd 9-week period.
“Due to the lack of grades and concern about the accuracy of grades reported by the teachers leaving. However, the parents of students in those classes will receive updated assessments about their student’s progress in the next week,” explained Parks-Schlepp.
“It’s disappointing. It’s very worrying because we’re now halfway through the school year and it’s been just a series of be patient, we’re fixing it, be patient, we’re fixing it, be patient, we’re fixing it and so now here we are. It’s [the] end of January and we’re in another be patient, we’re fixing it period. By the time this third nine weeks comes to an end and we get their official grades, we’re going to have nine weeks left of school to fix whatever might show up,” stated Dupré.
After News 4 aired the original story on Sunset Elementary, two teachers reached out: one former and one current.
They both declined an on-camera interview for fear of retaliation and requested they remain anonymous.
The former Sunset Elementary teacher said she recently resigned after six years. She said she was one of the first to resign this school year.
“There were no school wide expectations. These would be hallway procedures, recess procedures, cafeteria procedures, etc. You can imagine how this would be difficult for any staff but definitely new teachers,” said the former teacher.
Parks-Schlepp told KFOR Sunset Elementary does have procedures for student behavior which include expectations for all areas of the school.
Based on early feedback, a team of teachers is reviewing and updating the school-wide procedures.
The school is focusing on a procedure each week to emphasize the importance of common expectations, according to Parks-Schlepp.
News 4 asked for a copy of that email or notice regarding school-wide expectations given to teachers, but that wasn’t included in the school district’s response.
The other problem this former teacher brought up was, “We have socioeconomic, language, trauma, and other factors that are more prevalent at Sunset than other schools. I do not feel this has ever been recognized, acknowledged, or addressed on the district level. This new principal was a Vice Principal in the district for many years. The bottom line is that she came in and began tearing down everything that we built for so many years. I understand that things are going to change with new leadership. However, there should be some kind of layer of respect for professionalism to ask how we do things and why first.”
The biggest reason for her resignation was a lack of communication and respect.
She claims there are also a lack of resources for teachers, one being a “behavior team” who can assist with teachers who may feel overwhelmed and struggling.
“Sunset has a behavior interventionist, behavior classroom assistants, and an instructional coach. In addition, the district has an educational services department with content specialists who help teachers with instructional practices and has added four coaches to help early career teachers,” said Parks-Schlepp.
A current Sunset Elementary teacher told KFOR she’s been working with the school for five years, but this year has felt different for her.
Parks-Schlepp told KFOR last week the issues surrounding the kindergarten level at Sunset are due to unprecedented enrollment in that grade level, difficulty finding early elementary educators, and the unexpected resignations of two teachers.
The current teacher said, “This year from the beginning up to this point has been very difficult for the children and teachers as well. What the ladies have said [the two moms from KFOR’s original story] is the absolute truth, but staffing hasn’t been because of over enrollment. It’s because of the principal.”
In total, Sunset Elementary has lost nine teachers this school year.
The current teacher News 4 spoke with said there will likely be more.
“The children don’t have the security and safety to learn their best. We have children having full blown melt downs because their classrooms aren’t staffed with consistency. Children need consistency to feel safe. Right now the whole school has had extreme shake ups. This has now been a nightmare for staff and children,” she said.
She claims Edmond Public Schools Administrators have been visiting Sunset since November, but nothing has been done to help.
“Principal Ms.Wartly is very noncommunative. She’s having difficulty responding to the staff concerns and parents concerns,” added the current teacher.
In a previous report, Parks-Schlepp said the school and the district take this situation seriously and are taking every step necessary to resolve the circumstances.
In the meantime, Dupré said if he takes his daughter out of Sunset, his only other options are to send her to private school or home school her.
He said EPS no longer allows transfers which is how they ended up at Sunset Elementary in the first place.
“Please do something. You know, my daughter needs help and I’m not sure what any one thing could fix it. We just need more of everything,” he pleaded.