OKLAHOMA CITY – District officials are asking a judge to dismiss an injunction that was filed amid controversy surrounding the name of an Oklahoma City school.
Earlier this year, officials with the Oklahoma City Public School District announced their Pathway To Greatness plan. The plan aimed to save the district money by combining schools with lower enrollment numbers.
As a result, students from Classen School of Advanced Studies have moved into the 82-year-old building that was Northeast Academy. Critics and alumni began speaking out about the plan after learning that the school would now be named Classen SAS at Northeast.
“It’s not fair that a school on one side of the community can come to a school on this side of the community, which is a predominantly African American community, and strip us of our culture. Strip away the culture and our name,” said Charles Henry, a member of the Oklahoma City Public School Board.
Supporters argue that the name change was unanimously approved at a school board meeting in March. Henry claims that they had no idea of the exact name change at that date.
Henry has filed a petition, claiming the district did not follow the proper policy for the name change since it didn’t put it “on the agenda for public discussion and vote.”
However, a representative for the school district says they believe they did comply with board policy.
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Public School District filed a motion to dismiss Henry's petition.
"OKCPS strongly disputes the allegation that our Board of Education did not fully comply with OKCPS Board Policy D-08 with respect to the renaming of Northeast Academy to Classen SAS High School as it relates to the Pathway To Greatness. Our policy clearly states that the sole responsibility for naming facilities rests with the Board, and this was accomplished through a unanimous vote of the Board during a public meeting on March 4, 2019," a statement by the district read.
In its motion to dismiss, the district is asking the court to not interfere with the board's decision.
"As OKCPS starts a new school year for more than 45,000 students and nearly 5,000 employees, it is unfortunate that we are forced to spend such an exorbitant amount of time and resources addressing an issue that was clearly and appropriately settled on March 4th. Prior to that vote, the name of the school was discussed in detail at the public board meeting; and following that discussion, all eight board members- including Mr. Henry- unanimously voted to approve my recommendation to name the school Classen SAS High School. We remain confident in our position and look forward to the opportunity to utilize the legal process to address the specific allegations of the lawsuit. When we are successful, OKCPS will immediately seek recovery of all attorney fees associated with this frivolous case," said Dr. Sean McDaniel, Superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools.