OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An embattled Oklahoma public school district says it is working to move forward following a series of issues that caused it to be placed on probation.
In April 2021, the Oklahoma State Board of Education placed Western Heights on probation, citing a list of problems.
Officials say some of those problems included a mishandling of funds, failure to provide in-person instructional services to students, a lack of willingness to respond to concerns of the parents and the community, failure to provide food for students and significant loss in enrollment and teachers.
State board members also said the district’s enrollment dropped 30 percent as classes remained virtual longer than any other.
A quarter of the staff at Western Heights left, and graduation rates were among the lowest in the state.
After being placed on probation, Western Heights was given 90 days to take corrective action or risk losing accreditation.
Then-superintendent Mannix Barnes had his certification suspended and was replaced by a new superintendent, who was selected by the State Board of Education.
Now, the Western Heights Public School District says it has reached a settlement with Barnes.
“After much consideration, and at the advice of the new legal counsel, the WH Board of Education decided to approve a settlement agreement with Mr. Mannix Barnes. Although we know this decision may not be popular, the decision was made based on the understanding of the length of the trial, the legal time frame and the legal fees associated with the situation, and the amount of money paid out during the trial to Mr. Barnes, as well as the emotional stress it places on our community and staff members.
The agreed settlement is approximately $150,000.00. In lieu, Mr. Barnes cannot sue the district in the future, and he must turnover his Oklahoma Educators Certificate on or before December 31st, 2022.
It is our hope that the district will be able to move forward, in unity, as we start afresh and anew for our students, staff, families, and community.”Western Heights Public Schools statement