Some In Sperry Rally Against School Board

Wednesday, April 29th 2009, 12:45 am

By: News On 6

By Nicole Wiseman and Kyle Dierking,

SPERRY, OK -- Some Sperry Public School teachers are rallying against their school board. They're concerned about the board's power and priorities, stating members are overstepping boundaries and neglecting the best interests of the students. The school board president disagrees and says the students are the focus.

The rally was held after school Tuesday at Sperry schools to make their concerns known, although they say the displeasure is already very well known - even dividing the community.

"Instead of doing the policy and procedure that we have elected those individuals for, they're into the everyday of running the administration and in with the teachers and that's not what they are there for," said Keli Morgan, a former Cherokee Nation family advocate for Sperry elementary school.

Morgan worries the school board is driving administrators away. In fact, Sperry school's most recent superintendent, Rayma Harchar, resigned last week. Harchar is the sixth administrator to leave in less than two years.

In an e-mail to faculty and staff, Harchar wrote, "As many of you know my vision and goals do not align with those of the school board, so we have mutually agreed that I should leave Sperry Public Schools. I must be true to my values and beliefs about how to lead a school community into the future."

During a meeting Tuesday night, the Sperry school board hired former Broken Arrow School Superintendent Dr. Jim Sisney as the schools interim superintendent. Sisney was fired from Broken Arrow Schools in October 2008. Sperry will fill in until June 30.

10/23/2008  Related Story: School Board Makes It Official, Fires Superintendent

The board hired Harcher when Jerry Burd retired in June last year. Don Raleigh was the Assistant Superintendent at that time and was expected to replace Burd, but Raleigh took the superintendent job at Pryor Public Schools.

Marchers say they are worried about the students, saying they need reliable leaders and someone to turn to in the event of a school emergency.

"If something happened, it's going to be mass chaos because no one's going to know who's in charge. You have to have someone in place and we want someone that's stable to take us into the competing edge, whether its test scores or athletics, just to mold our little people into strong human beings," said Morgan.

Sperry teachers who spoke with The News On 6 didn't want to go on camera. They were afraid of becoming a target and losing their jobs for speaking out. However, the school board president says their jobs would never be on the line.

"I believe in honest and open, frank discussion. I'm here as a board member to try to improve the school district, that's the last thing, no. I can't fathom that. Believe me, there's been plenty of speaking out on all sides. I see no room for that argument," said Derrell Morrow, Sperry School Board President.

Still, teachers say board members are taking advantage of their power and others in the community agree. Marchers carried signs asking for support of the students and for four school board members to resign -- Derrell Morrow, Cindy Wilson, Jonnetta Selvidge and Brian Wedlake.

Board member Jeff Carter was not included in that list.

"They want to be in complete control of everything, not only their job's supposed duties, but they want to do the superintendent's job, they want to do the teacher's job, they want to be in charge," said Pat Moss, of Sperry.

Morrow says they have it all wrong, that power has nothing to do with it and that his position is a labor of love. Morrow admits, there have been tough times, but says he has strong faith in the future of Sperry schools and hopes everyone can move forward.

"There's been far too much talk all the way around and it's time to get down to business as it pertains to the students. All I care about here is the students and the children of this community and the people of this community. I will work as long as I can to better this school," said Morrow.

And so will those who marched Tuesday, working to make their voices heard and correct what they believe are the wrongs of the community.

"The school is the town here and we love this school and we love this town, we just want things to get right again," said Freda Bridgeman, of Sperry.

Keli Morgan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for her treatment while at Sperry elementary.

Morgan has melanoma and says Principal Stephanie Holcomb assigned her to outside playground duty.

"I presented her with my medical papers and my doctor's letters and she still suggested I do outside playground duty and told me to get a hat and an umbrella and UV glasses and go back outside. And my doctor had sent numerous letters telling her it was life-threatening and she discarded that," said Morgan.

Morgan says she was harassed and made fun of because of her condition. Morgan was fired on September 24, 2008.

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