Western Heights defies State Board of Education, sets meeting to appoint interim superintendent without authority to do so

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Western Heights School Board defied the State Board of Education Tuesday when they set a meeting to appoint an interim superintendent when they don’t have the authority to do that anymore.

The war over Western Heights continues, with this move coming just one day after the State Board of Education decided to take complete control of the district.

The board said the decision came due to mismanagement by the school’s superintendent Mannix Barnes, whose certification was also pulled by the state board recently. It also came after a state audit into the district found a litany of issues.

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Mannix Barnes

The State Department of Education called the action to appoint an interim superintendent “inappropriate.” They also said the move would be invalid if they decided to follow through with it, in what seems to be the never-ending saga between the district and the state.

“Seeing that from our board is just proof that they’re still not wanting to comply with State Department of Education’s (sic) decision,” said Magaly Rivas, a parent in the district.

The decision by the district has left parents with children in it baffled.

“Just their selfish disdain for the feelings of other and what goes on in our district, it’s not great. It speaks volumes,” Rivas said.

“I would really hope that the school board would yield to the State Department of Education,” said Amy Boone, another parent in the district.

The state overhaul includes full state intervention for one year with reviews every 90 days. All district actions are also subject to the authority of the State Board, and the State Board would be the one to appoint an interim superintendent, which they announced Tuesday afternoon would be Monty Guthrie.

“They’re getting a little taste of what they have been dishing out to us the past year, two years,” Boone said.

Instead, Tuesday Western Heights posted agenda minutes for a special meeting. One of the only agenda items was to appoint an interim superintendent.

“They’re wanting to prove a point that they still want to have control,” Rivas said.

The state board of education responded with their own statement that can be read in full below.

“It’s an inappropriate action and will be invalid should they attempt to proceed. It’s a further demonstration of the Western Heights school board president’s disregard for the authority of the Oklahoma State Board of Education.”

OKLAHOMA STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

“We wanted to be heard, we wanted our ideas and our opinions and our concerns to be validated, and they have been,” Boone said.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said if they continue to fail to comply, law enforcement could get involved. However, it was made clear that they don’t want that to happen.

KFOR reached out to the Western Heights School District for comment, but we were referred to an attorney. We did not receive a call back from the attorney.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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