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Letters to the Editor
 

Douglass needs help


James R. Johnson November 28th, 2012

I pause to write and acknowledge the mountain of disturbing news that is emanating from my beloved school, dear ole Douglass. In recent weeks, we have witnessed federal and local investigations of grade-tampering and attendance manipulations. We have heard an outcry from former students, teachers and administrators. We have seen the suspension and resignation of a principal who had been at the helm of Frederick A. Douglass Mid-High School for the past four years

The National Oklahoma City Douglass High School Alumni Association has existed in its present form, to support the growth and development our school and its students, for 26 years. We have existed through a litany of school administrators. The history of Douglass High School now stretches over 122 years. It has produced giants of leaders, educators, doctors, jurists, and businesspeople.

However, what is now brought into focus, if allegations are proven correct, is a travesty of the highest proportions. The institution of public education has had its ups and downs over the years. The commitment that Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma City school board have made to students and schools through MAPS for Kids is monumental, historic and far-reaching. We are now called to ask if there were false hopes and promises. We trust not.

Administrative oversight at Douglass and other schools, I suspect, has been lacking. In recent years at Douglass, we have seen legions of teachers leave, retire or — in some instances, according to reports — get forced out.

Notwithstanding the multitude of information that continues to be eked out, we as an organization of concern stand ready to fight back. If allegations of malfeasance and grade-tampering are found to be true, we have egregious wrongs that have been heaped upon both current and past students. The diploma that has been issued is found to be without guarantee. That has lifetime consequences for the students who come to school and expect to be properly educated.

Our eyes are focused on the Oklahoma City school board, the administration of its superintendent and, more particularly, on the changes that must be implemented at Douglass.

A compass has been broken and our way back must be found.

—James R. Johnson, Oklahoma City

Johnson is president of the National Oklahoma City Douglass High School Alumni Association.


 
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