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Protesters greeted students at the first day of class of Douglass High School.

Jerry Bohnen August 2nd, 2012

Car horns blared from passing motorists, and the morning sun promised another scorching day as nearly a dozen protesters gathered Wednesday morning outside Frederick A. Douglass Mid-High School at 900 Martin Luther King on the first day of the new school year. The protesters — some of whom had been fired by the Oklahoma City Public Schools district — tried drawing attention to their allegations of grade-tampering by principal Brian Staples.

douglassprotestProtesters outside Douglass - credit: Jerry Bohnen

Some held a large orange banner that proclaimed, “We can ... We shall ... We will ... Stand up.” One fired teacher, Stephanie Carter, waved a sign asking motorists to “honk for justice.”

The planned three-day demonstration was organized by several fired teachers whose accusations have prompted a district investigation. A district spokesperson has said that neither Staples nor administration officials will have comment until that probe is completed.

Former Douglass students were among some of the demonstrators, angry over what they contend has been falsification of attendance records and grades.

“I hope we’re going to do some good, until we get our mission accomplished — and that’s equal justice,” said Carlos Robinson, a 2002 Douglass graduate who is now a school outreach administrator at Oklahoma City Community College.

Another protester, Douglass graduate Kuinten Rucker, said he hoped to raise community awareness of the charges.

Marcia Muhammad, a former Douglass assistant principal who was fired by the district in 2010, said, “How do they like this on the first day of school?”

Her son and two other men face criminal charges for an attack on Staples following her firing.

“My problem is we have no place to go,” Muhammad said. “We have a complaint and nobody wants to hear us.”

District spokeswoman Tierney Tinnin declined to address why Staples has not been suspended pending the investigation.

credit: Jerry Bohnen

“This, along with all personnel issues, by law are confidential,” she said. “The district is conducting a thorough investigation and taking the allegations seriously.”

She said the probe, which is being conducted by an outside attorney, should be finished by the end of August.

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