TPS Board Member Speaks Out Against Tulsa Honor Academy Extension Amidst Racism Reports

A flare of passion shines light on the pain of TPS board member Dr. Jennettie Marshall. Pain she shares with parents like Shari Alspach after reports of some students used racial slurs against black students and teachers at Tulsa Honor Academy.

Thursday, November 2nd 2023, 10:27 pm



TPS Board Member Dr. Jennettie Marshall was frustrated Thursday night after the board voted to extend the Tulsa Honor Academy's contract despite reports of racism and bullying at the school.

Marshall says it's like reliving history, and it's time to take action before something terrible happens to its students.

A flare of passion shines light on the pain of TPS board member Dr. Jennettie Marshall.

“This is not acceptable, and we will not allow our voices to be silent,” Marshall said. “Even after Monday, that same egregious behavior continued.”

Pain she shares with parents like Shari Alspach after reports of some students used racial slurs against black students and teachers at Tulsa Honor Academy.

“Normally, I can set a meeting with a teacher, and I can get things in control. It’s never been bad enough that I pull my kid out of school to home-school him,” Alspach said.

Until Monday, when she says she unenrolled her son, 7th grader Kayden Matthews, from THA. The same day, a 4-2 vote extended the school’s charter contract during special session.

Marshall voted against the extension, concerned the racial slurs could lead to something worse.

“Children feel like the environment is so bad there that it could be the very site of the very next school shooting right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma,” Marshall said.

THA implemented its Culture Improvement Plan this week and acknowledges the use of racial slurs within its schools, but because the plan wasn’t included in the vote.

“The district cannot even hold Tulsa Honor Academy to even the things that they say that they’re going to do,” Marshall said.

In a statement, THA's Chief Executive Officer Elsie Urueta Pollock wrote the following:

“Tulsa Honor Academy is aware of reported incidents of the use of racial slurs by scholars. The use of hate speech and racial slurs goes against Tulsa Honor Academy’s values and beliefs. While we have taken many steps to address these racial incidents, we know that this is an ongoing effort. This issue must be addressed at school, at home, and in our broader community. 
Our School Culture Improvement Plan, which began in January of 2023, outlines THA’s plan to continue addressing these issues, which includes a partnership with the Restorative Justice Institute of Oklahoma. Prior to the majority’s vote to renew THA High School’s charter agreement on Monday, October 30, Tulsa Honor Academy shared the steps taken to address the racial incidents thus far and our plan moving forward. 
In November of 2022, THA began reviewing consequence policy as a result of a racial slur incident. THA revised its policy to a zero tolerance policy for the use of ANY racial slur or disparagement. Now, scholars who use a racial slur are suspended with increased days for additional offenses. THA is working continuously with THA staff to ensure this policy is implemented with fidelity. 
We have had several productive conversations with Tulsa Public Schools staff and board members over the last several weeks. We look forward to partnering alongside our authorizer to learn more about TPS’s programs that successfully address and overcome these issues. 
Tulsa Honor Academy has never had a deficiency for our safety protocols. Lockdowns, internal or external, are communicated to both families and staff. 
Tulsa Honor Academy is committed to intervention, prevention, and solutions to build a school culture where all scholars AND staff belong. We know that if we come together as a community, we can build the school culture for which we strive.”

THA further states there haven't been any bomb or shooting threats toward the school as a result of racial slurs.

Marshall says she intends to file ethics complaints against THA and is calling for the replacement of the school's administration and board members.

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