Tulsa School Audit Report Released

Sunday, November 16th 2008, 9:56 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A new report blasts a Tulsa alternative school temporarily shut down last year for overcrowding and fighting.  The independent audit calls for the Tulsa Academic Center or TAC to be shutdown.  But, TPS's superintendent says that's not going to happen.

Dr. Keith Ballard says he wants a task force to examine the district's alternative programs.  And, he says despite the harsh criticism in the report, TAC won't be closing any time soon.

The district has tried its best to turn the Tulsa Academic Center from a so-called violent dumping ground into a picture of discipline and order.  But, a newly released report from an independent consulting firm says TAC is still a failure.

TAC was supposed to be a second chance for middle and high school students on long-term suspension.  But, the new report says it was implemented without careful planning.  And, it doesn't meet national standards and has no true vision, mission or purpose.  The report goes on to say TAC staff has minimal training.

The program is modeled after one in Lafayette, Louisiana, known for its discipline and intense physical training.  But, the audit states Tulsa's drill instructors aren't even certified in physical education.  And, students can't participate because they lack physical exams.

The report goes on to say the school isn't just failing students physically, but mentally.  It says instructional needs remain unmet.  According to the audit, teachers report a lack of teacher's edition textbooks and working technology.

In fact, they say computer software bought last year to help TAC students get back on track academically, still isn't up and running.  The report also says the computers are out of date and the building isn't even wired for Internet service.

Principals told the auditors TAC students, who returned to their original schools, were far behind their peers.  The report recommends TAC be scrapped altogether and the district should come up with a new program to deal with problem students.

Dr. Ballard says some of the problems detailed in this report are already being corrected.

The report didn't just review TAC, but four other programs.

It also harshly criticizes the Project Accept program aimed at helping elementary school students with behavior problems. The audit recommends the programs at Bell and Anderson Elementaries should be eliminated because of lack of resources, funding and staff.  But, it says the one at Roosevelt shows promise.

One of the bright spots in the report is the Tulsa Learning Academy.  TLA is the school in Promenade Mall that allows students who just need one or two credits to graduate to finish up at their own pace.  The report says the program should be expanded to the evening to accommodate a 50 student waiting list.

Related story:

9/10/2008  TAC Looking For A Turn-Around