Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Voices
11:02 am
Mon October 27, 2014

The Turnaround Challenge For Oklahoma City Public Schools

(L-R) Oklahoma Watch executive editor David Fritze, Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Robert Neu, and Associate Superintendent Aurora Lora
Oklahoma Watch

By any measure, Oklahoma City Public Schools is struggling.

Many schools are underperforming. Thousands of students are falling short in reading or math. Teachers are stressed and say they are underpaid, leading to constant turnover.

Superintendent Rob Neu and Associate Superintendent Aurora Lora spoke to those issues and others at an “Oklahoma Watch-Out” community forum Sept. 30 near downtown Oklahoma City.

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Oklahoma Watch
6:30 am
Wed October 15, 2014

In Education, Do Parents Matter?

Henderson Harris (right) talks with Jannett Taylor at a GEAR UP event in Oklahoma City. Harris, whose daughter attends Douglas High School, and Taylor, who’s granddaughter attends Douglas, are looking to increase the number of participants in the school’s Parent-Teacher-Student Association.
Credit Nate Robson / Oklahoma Watch

At John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City, only 22 percent of parents attended a parent-teacher conference in 2012-2013, state records show.

In Tulsa, just 4 percent of parents at Central Junior High School made at least one parent-teacher meeting – the lowest rate in the district.

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Education
10:52 am
Sun September 28, 2014

OKC Superintendent, Associate To Appear At Public Forum

Rob Neu, Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent
Credit Oklahoma City Public Schools

The public will get a chance to question new Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu about his policies and goals for the district during a public forum on education Tuesday.

Neu is in his third month as Oklahoma City’s superintendent, but has already drawn attention with plans to increase teacher pay, implement more technology in the classroom and enact a student-loan forgiveness program for University of Central Oklahoma students who teach in the district for three years. He and new Associate Superintendent Aurora Lora, who will also appear at the forum, have said they wish to provide more support to principals and teachers and strengthen the curriculum.

The forum, organized by non-profit investigate news organization Oklahoma Watch, will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Kamps 1910 Café, 10 NE 10th St., in Oklahoma City.

Neu, who was hired to replaced interim Superintendent Dave Lopez in July, previously was superintendent for Federal Way Public Schools near Seattle.

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Education
1:00 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Barresi Updates Board On Status Of ESEA Waiver

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi
Credit Oklahoma Department of Education

State Superintendent Janet Barresi told members of the State Board of Education Wednesday that Oklahoma could be facing stricter federal regulation if the state loses its extension of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

State Department of Education staff filed a request for extension of the flexibility waiver beyond the 2013-2014 school year earlier this month.

The waiver is the Obama administration’s exemption from many of the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act, which was first granted to Oklahoma in 2012.

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6:58 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Lawmaker Blocks Bill Requiring Doctors to Check Prescription Drug Monitoring System

Last year, Oklahoma pharmacies filled 9.7 million prescriptions--or nearly 600 million doses--for controlled dangerous substances. Prescribers logged into the Prescription Monitoring Program database 1.2 million times, suggesting that many do not use the system routinely. An investigation by Oklahoma Watch and The Oklahoman determined that the lack of routine PMP checks is one factor contributing to a dramatic increase in drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma.
A bill that would require doctors to check their patients' drug histories before writing narcotic prescriptions was derailed Tuesday by a House committee chairman, but sponsors expressed hope they could keep the issue alive. The bill, requested by Gov.
Oklahoma Watch
11:00 am
Mon March 17, 2014

OKC, Tulsa Superintendents Weigh In On Read-Or-Fail Law, Common Core, The Arts

Keith Ballard, superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, and Dave Lopez, interm superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools, answer questions from the audience on a range of education issues at an Oklahoma Watch-Out forum on March 6.
Credit Carmen Forman / Oklahoma Watch

Third-grade reading, new education standards, teacher pay and the arts were among key issues addressed by superintendents from Oklahoma’s two largest public school systems during an education forum last week.

Dave Lopez, interim superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools, and Keith Ballard, superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, fielded questions from an audience of more than 50 during the forum, held at Kamp’s 1910 Café in Oklahoma City. The forum was sponsored by Oklahoma Watch, a nonprofit journalism organization.

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6:18 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

A Think-Twice Proposal for Divorcing Couples

A house committee has approved a bill that would require couples with children considering divorce to take a course on the effects of divorce on children.
Feb. 26: Bill Would Require Marriage Program A House committee has approved a bill that would require certain couples who have children and are seeking a divorce to go through an Oklahoma Marriage Initiative program before the divorce is granted. House Bill 2249 by Rep.
Oklahoma Watch
8:55 am
Mon October 28, 2013

New Data Reveals Widespread Financial Losses Among Small Oklahoma Hospitals

Bruce Mayhan, lab manager at Pauls Valley General Hospital, looks at a blood sample through a microscope in the hospital’s lab.
Credit Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

A majority of small general hospitals in Oklahoma are losing money, and health care officials warn that some hospitals could close, be sold or cut services.

Federal financial reports for nearly every hospital in the state, obtained by Oklahoma Watch and analyzed and reported with the Tulsa World, show that in each year from 2009 to 2012, between half and three-fourths of general hospitals with fewer than 100 beds lost money. Most are in small cities or rural areas. More than half posted losses in multiple years.

Larger hospitals fared better. In each year during the four-year period, between 7 percent and 19 percent of general hospitals with 100 beds or more lost money.

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9:53 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Sex Crimes Are Most Common Reason Police Lose Certification

From 2010 to 2012, of the 66 officers who had their certifications revoked or suspended, were given a letter of reprimand, or surrendered their certification, according to records from the Council on Law Enforcement and Education, or CLEET, 18 were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, sex crimes.
More than a quarter of Oklahoma peace officers who were disciplined by the state's certification agency or surrendered their certifications over three years were convicted of or pleaded guilty to sex crimes, according to records analyzed by Oklahoma Watch.
Oklahoma Watch
8:33 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Despite Convictions and Guilty Pleas, Law Officers Keep Certifications for Years

Shawn Theo Thomsen, a former Kingfisher County deputy, received a five-year suspended sentence in July 2010 after pleading to a felony charge of lewd acts with a child under 16. Thomsen has since moved to Texas, where he is a registered sex offender. According to state records, though, Thomsen still has an active Oklahoma peace officers certification.
Credit Texas State Offender Registry

View a map showing officers with certification actions.

In July 2010, a former Kingfisher County Sheriff’s Office deputy pleaded no contest to a charge of committing lewd acts with a child when he was an officer two years earlier.

Shawn Theo Thomsen, then 43, was given a five-year suspended sentence, court records show. Now living in Texas, he’s required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Despite the crime, Thomsen is still certified as a peace officer by the Council on Law Enforcement and Education, or CLEET. State law requires that the state agency take away certification for an officer who pleads guilty or no contest to a felony charge, thus removing him or her from law enforcement.

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