Charter school promising to fight board decision to close the school

Tuesday, October 3rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Officials with W.E.B. DuBois Academy promise to fight the Tulsa school board's decision to close the charter school.

State law allows the school's officials to seek mediation, and an arbitration process could follow.

But the school is scheduled to close in mid-November unless the Tulsa board reconsiders, State Superintendent Sandy Garrett said Monday.

"They can do this, but that doesn't change the November date,"

Garrett said about mediation.

Mediation would force the school and Tulsa officials to sit down and talk, but that probably won't change anything, Tulsa Public Schools attorney David Fist said.

"The matter of who is right or wrong is of no interest to the mediator. There is nothing to get together on. ... I don't think the school exists any more."

The school has faces the resignation of its superintendent, who later returned. Then the school board resigned, and another was voted in. The new board then fired the superintendent again.

Officials had trouble finding a building and signed at least one lease before settling on the former Wiley Post Elementary School just as classes were set to begin. There were also questions about the financial plan and a budget.

When the Tulsa board voted to close the school, members also gave DuBois officials a list of deficiencies to correct before scheduling a hearing. All the Tulsa board's concerns were met, but the school was still closed, DuBois school board chairman Greg Robinson said.

The Tulsa school board members decided the school was still lacking organization and a sound curriculum, they said.

Robinson said the school will seek money from the school district. Because the Tulsa school board gave DuBois a charter and made them a legitimate part of the school system, the charter school has the right to funds for the time it is open, he said.

DuBois received an initial $50,000 in start-up money from the state, but it hasn't gotten any other money. Other charter schools, the Deborah Brown Community School and Dove Science Academy, have been given their part of the Tulsa Public Schools budget.

Officials also say DuBois has not paid any teachers or employees yet. The state Department of Education wants what is left of the start-up money back, about $12,000, Robinson said.

The Tulsa school district isn't prepared to reconsider giving the charter school money, the Tulsa schools' attorney said.

"We are not going to pay them any money until the Oklahoma Supreme Court says we have to," Fist said.

As for the salaries, "that's their problem," Fist said. "They have not fulfilled the provisions of their charter. Not having done that, I don't believe we are obligated to pay them any money."

Another meeting with parents of DuBois Academy students is scheduled for Tuesday evening.