Fired Douglass teachers who raised the allegations, however, contend the district officials had ignored their complaints for three years.
Oklahoma Gazette first reported the allegations in June, when district officials launched the probe at the request of former teachers and the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Sandra Park, the district’s deputy superintendent, announced Oct. 10 that Staples had been placed on administrative leave with pay. Although she said a majority of the accusations are unfounded, “we are continuing our investigation of the remaining allegations.”
Park did not comment about whether some allegations had merit.
Stephanie Carter, one of the ex-teachers accusing Staples of fraud, said the district’s action is a positive start.
“We’ve been saying it for three years. Karl Springer (OKCPS Superintendent) knew it,” Carter said. “The school board knew for three years, but they just kinda stuck it under the rug.”
She is among a number of former teachers, aides and others who say they and “dozens of others” were fired by Staples, because they refused to change failing grades and poor attendance records to make the beleaguered school look as if it was improving.
Marcia Muhammad, former assistant principal, said the district’s action was a milestone in their quest for an investigation.
“We’re not going to be happy until [district officials] clean it out,” she said. “It’s about our children. I’m happy, don’t get me wrong. But it doesn’t stop there.”
Muhammad and others, including those who picketed Douglass High for 49 days, said they are hopeful a separate investigation by the U.S. Department of Education will confirm their allegations. That probe began in September after Muhammad mailed affidavits and supportive documents to education department officials in Washington, D.C.
“We have more materials for the feds,” she said. “We have plenty.”
Twonnie Hill, a 2010 Douglass graduate, said she witnessed “illegal grade changing” of one of her fellow classmates at Staples’ behest.
Another graduate, Kanda Barnes, claimed she did not have a required 12th-grade English class. She maintains Staples gave her a C for both semesters of it, and alleges the principal let another student take an algebra class for her.
Muhammad said she believes the district investigation was going nowhere until federal authorities announced they, too, were on the case. Her son and two other men face criminal charges for an attack on Staples shortly after her firing.
To date, neither Staples nor the school board have commented on the allegations.
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