OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – More drama is unfolding in the ongoing saga at Western Heights School District. Tuesday, three members of the school board resigned, leaving the board without the quorum needed to conduct important business.

“This was definitely a long and overdue process,” said Briana Flatley, one of the two remaining board members told KFOR. “It is a triumph for the families and students. I see this as a positive, as someone who works directly with the students and educators, this is a step in the right direction so that we can promote that high standard of education that these students deserve.”
The Oklahoma State Board of Education had taken over the district last year, kicking out superintendent Mannix Barnes after years of what the department called financial mismanagement and reportedly not maintaining a safe learning environment for students.

In March 2021, school officials told OSBE there was 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

Also, state board members said the district’s enrollment dropped 30 percent as classes remained virtual longer than any other. A quarter of the district’s staff left and graduation rates were among the lowest in the state.
Tuesday’s resignations leave the board without a quorum.
President Robert Everman said he stepped down for “personal health issues,” Robert Sharp cited “unforeseen circumstances,” and Linda Farley did not provide a reason in her resignation letter.

Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister believes these resignations — though all at once – will benefit the district but said the resigning board members had “one final game to play.”

“Unfortunately, however, the orchestration of these three resignations – all occurring at the same time – is not altogether well-intentioned,” she said. “By ensuring there will not be a quorum, these members are hobbling the ability of the district to conduct important business until a new member is appointed by the governor.”

The district’s Interim Superintendent Brayden Savage released a statement Tuesday.

“These resignations certainly indicate that today is a new day in Western Heights!” he wrote. “After the past several years of fighting, the students, families, staff, and community of Western Heights deserve a positive time of healing and growth. While we recognize that these turns of events create a unique situation for our district, we are working in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education and State Superintendent Hoffmeister on how to proceed.”

KFOR spoke to one parent who’s agreeing with these sentiments.

“This certainly feels like it was kind of the last way to stick it to the Western Heights community with leaving us without board representation,” said Amy Boone, who has a third grader in the district. “But honestly, it’s just a huge relief that they’re gone. Before, whenever we asked them to give us more information, they refused. They were not working with parents and really not even working with teachers. It was really more like a dictatorship than anything. Teachers can’t under those conditions and kids can’t thrive under them either.”

OSBE said they’re considering a new member for Western Heights’ board who they’ll recommend to the Governor for him to officially appoint.  Hofmeister said their recommendation could come as soon as Thursday.