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Troubled Oklahoma school defies state education department

July 16, 2021 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Board members of a southwest Oklahoma City school district have defied the state Board of Education and hired an interim superintendent.

The Western Heights school board voted 3-1 Thursday to name assistant Superintendent Kim Race interim superintendent, replacing Mannix Barnes.

Barnes’ superintendent certification was suspended by the state board last month after the district was placed on probation by the state board in April for concerns including financial management, heavy staff losses and poor academic performance.

The state board took over the district Monday and on Tuesday deputy state Superintendent Monty Guthrie was named to head the district for the next year.

“I am definitely worried that what just happened is illegal,” said Briana Flatley, who cast the lone vote against naming Race interim superintendent. The three board members who voted for the move did not speak as they left the meeting.

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In a letter to the board, state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said state officials have no confidence in the district’s leaders and that their actions could be illegal.

Western Heights attorney Jerry Colclazier said the board has the right to appoint an interim superintendent and dismissed Hofmeister’s warning as a scare tactic.