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Thompson: Why Did Another Oklahoma City Principal Resign?

TardyFor the second time this year, the resignation of a principal of a troubled Oklahoma City secondary school hit the newspaper. The Daily Oklahoman's Jaclyn Cosgrove, in Oklahoma City Principal Resigns After Large-Scale Tardiness Effort, describes it as a result of three days of "hall sweeps" at a middle school in order to get students to class on time and of the arrests that followed.

 According to the police report, 100 to 200 kids (or up to 1/5th of the student body) were late to class every day.  Four tardy students were suspended and told to not return to school without a parent, but they came back the next day. They were charged with trespassing, which could result in a fine as large as $1000.  One student explained that he was too scared to tell his parents and he didn't believe he would actually be arrested.

I do not know the principal and even if I did, I would be like the OKCPS central office and not comment about an individual in a controversy like this. In my twenty-plus years of experience with the OKCPS, this type of sad story is the inevitable result of the inability of neighborhood schools to enforce their tardy and attendance policies.  When schools are not allowed to address one or two dozen chronic "hallwalkers" during the first semester, by April we often see one or two hundred who are either tardy or who do not attempt to attend class.

Jefferson Middle School received a grade of "D" in the controversial new state report card.  Last year, it received an "F" for the growth in student performance and and an "F" for growth for the bottom quartile.  Jefferson received an "A" for attendance. Those metrics may or may not say something about the school.  But, clearly they say that the administrators are under severe stress.  And, this is the height of the high-stakes testing that will determine the school's fate.

Also, in my experience, the overuse of criminal penalties becomes worse every spring, when decent and caring principals are overwhelmed with stress.  Our inability to enforce school rules makes everyone frustrated. But, that is no excuse for criminalizing the conduct of a boy who said his guardian told him to go to school because he would send his case worker to clear up the situation.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Comments

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You stated the problem right there! A case manager was being sent to do a parent's job! The principal should be given an award! If we don't have structure and discipline input schools no learning will occur!

It’s very tough being a principal, especially one at a struggling school. Honestly i commend this principal for trying to make a change at this school. It seems to me like the students were being defiant and the principal made an example out of them. I don’t know why he resigned but I hope situations at this school get better because the students there deserve to get educated. Maybe a strong no nonsense principal is exactly what this school needs.

The principal did a good job with this incident. Now of days it is hard to be a principal especially when parents are not doing their jobs.

I agree with you Rahma. A "no nonsense" principal would do the trick. I graduated in 2006 from a high school with a situation very similar to this one. I was never a part of the "unruly", but I noticed that once the "easy going and well liked" principal resigned, and the school brought in a principal who's discipline tactics mocked his disciplinary experiences in the military, our high school was a better organized place. Though at first it DID cause an uproar with a few of the "unruly"'s parents, once they were aware of their children's unknown bad behavior, the bad apples were weeded out (transfered) and those who remained showed a difference.

I commend all principals and teachers, they have very difficult jobs. They are educators with plans of providing a structured learning environment but some students do not realize how great this opportunity is.

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