Amid Distance Learning, TPS Makes Extra Effort To Reach Out To Students


Wednesday, September 30th 2020, 5:14 pm
By: Amy Kauffman


TULSA, Okla. -

Tulsa Public Schools is making a big effort to reach out to students who haven’t logged on for virtual learning.

The district said it has teams going door-to-door to make sure kids are okay, and some of their efforts could be lifesaving. TPS said they’ve been sending people to shelters, driving through neighborhoods and even calling emergency contact numbers to try to find where some students are.

“They went out every single day all day looking for kids, going to families, going to homes, to shelters, even going to like Quik trip and places like that where kids would hang out and try to see if we can find some of our students,” said Waymon Tisdale Fine Arts Academy Principal Elaine Buxton. 

The Tulsa Police Department said the district also helped officers find a severe case of child neglect.

Waymon Tisdale Wellness Team Members Sandra Joseph and Amy Van Vleet spent their afternoon searching for missing students. They said they started with more than 100 missing kids on the first week of school and now they're down to 6.

"We do the usual things like phone calls, emails, school messenger and all those kinds of things but when we can't reach them we literally have boots on the ground,” said Principal Buxton.

Waymon Tisdale Principal Elaine Buxton leads a few teams of counselors, teachers, nurses and other staff members. She said when students aren't logging on, their number one priority is to find out why.

“Just like if they were here on this campus, I'm responsible for their safety,” said Buxton.

TPS also gets Tulsa Police involved when they believe students may be in danger.

The district asked TPD to do a welfare check on some students who were given chrome books but weren't logging in. Police said when they got to the home the 5 and 8-year-old girls were all alone.

“While the officers were investigating this and speaking with the children and taking pictures of the residence, the mother actually shows up at the house and that mother was intoxicated at the time,” said Tulsa Police Officer Jeanne Pierce.

The girls' mom, Amber Deanda, was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on two counts of child neglect.

Related Story: Tulsa Woman Arrested For Neglect After Leaving Children Alone For 24 Hours

Tulsa Police Officer Jeanne Pierce says they usually get a lot of calls from schools and daycares about neglect, but right now those numbers are down.   

"When they're in their virtual schools or in their homes they don't have anyone to tell that they got beat with an extension cord, they don't have anyone to tell that they haven't had food in a week,” said Officer Pierce.

Principal Buxton said she's also using social media and other avenues to try to reach parents too, but said having boots on the ground has made a big difference in showing kids they're still there.

"We are going after our children and that's what we do because listen these kids if they don't get an education they're not going to make it,” said Buxton.

"It was good that Tulsa Public Schools was concerned about these children and that they called us and asked us to help because who knows what could've happened to those children,” said Officer Pierce.

TPD said if you are starting to see signs of abuse or neglect in your neighborhood, it never hurts to call them to check it out. They also encourage you to contact DHS and file a report.