Stu­dents walk out of Tulsa school

The Oklahoman - - NEWS - Tulsa World sa­muel.hardi­man@tul­saworld.com BY SA­MUEL HARDI­MAN

TULSA — Hun­dreds of the Edi­son Prepara­tory School stu­dents walked out of class Wed­nes­day to protest Tulsa Pub­lic Schools pol­icy and the school’s ad­min­is­tra­tion amid “de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tions” at the school.

Stu­dents who spoke with the World were adamant that Edi­son is still a great school but it is suf­fer­ing from a neg­a­tive cli­mate and teacher turnover.

The protest came in the wake of sev­eral high­pro­file in­ci­dents at the school, which have led the school com­mu­nity to voice its con­cerns to the dis­trict’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and call for the re­moval of Prin­ci­pal Dixie Speer.

Dozens chanted “What do we want? Better teach­ers,” on the school’s foot­ball field, clutch­ing signs that read “Bring Ex­cel­lence Back to Edi­son” and “With­out teach­ers, we live in ig­no­rance.”

Faith Shirley, the Edi­son ju­nior who or­ga­nized the protest, said the walk­out was an effort to protest the “de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tions” the school is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

“This year, two stu­dents sex­u­ally as­saulted a jan­i­tor first se­mes­ter and then a teacher threw a desk. That doesn’t hap­pen at the school that I used to go to,” she said.

Two stu­dents were ar­rested in Novem­ber after break­ing into the school after hours and grop­ing a jan­i­tor. ‘In Jan­uary, Robert Reynolds, then an English Lan­guage Arts teacher, re­signed after video of him throw­ing desks emerged on the in­ter­net. Reynolds was an emer­gency-cer­ti­fied teacher.

TPS re­leased a state­ment Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon say­ing “what hap­pened at Edi­son this morn­ing is an ex­am­ple of stu­dents tak­ing a stand for what they be­lieve.”

“We are tak­ing the con­cerns that our stu­dents, teach­ers, and par­ents have raised se­ri­ously and work­ing ur­gently with the TCTA, Edi­son teach­ers, and the Edi­son lead­er­ship team to de­velop both im­me­di­ate and long-term ac­tion steps and so­lu­tions,” the state­ment said.

The con­cerns shared by stu­dents echoed those that have been shared by par­ents, stu­dents and teach­ers in re­cent weeks: high teacher turnover, low wages, is­sues with dis­ci­pline and dis­trust of the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Prin­ci­pal Dixie Speer was out sick on Wed­nes­day.

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