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Morning Bell: Achille school closes following social media posts

Good Wednesday morning. On Sunday I wrote about threatening social media posts made by parents and other members of the community towards a female student at Achille Public Schools who is transgender. District leadership said it had taken the incident seriously, which you can read about here

The school had started the new year last week, but following the Facebook posts the decision was made to close on Monday and Tuesday.  

"Yes, we did close at the request of law enforcement," Superintendent Rick Beene said on Tuesday. "Wasn’t so much the safety of our kids as much as it was the law officials didn’t want to have to worry about these kids while dealing with the other groups of adults that might be gathering."

There had been reports that a gathering or protest was in the works in response to the Facebook posts. 

The student's mother told the Washington Post, “She’s just an awesome kid, and then to see any fear in her like that. . . . I can’t explain how bad that hurts me.”

Pay raise hasn't had immediate impact on hiring

A state-funded pay raise has been good for the spirits but done little to slow Oklahoma's chronic teacher shortage, according to a new survey of school districts.

About 280 districts completed the survey by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, which found 494 teaching vacancies as of Aug. 1, despite a heavy reliance on underqualified teachers and part-time instructors.

Fifty-seven percent of superintendents said hiring was more difficult this year than last year while about 35 percent said it was the same.

"While raises have helped recruit and retain teachers to a degree, the full impact remains to be seen as several teachers had secured jobs in other states this year prior to the Legislature's passage of the raise," Norman Public Schools Superintendent Nick Migliorino said Monday.

"The raises were a critical first step in providing adequate, sustainable funding for public education."

The pay raises won't appear until September for Oklahoma City Public Schools teachers, Superintendent Sean McDaniel told eligible employees Tuesday.

"We are working to finalize the implementation plan for these pay increases no later than Sept. 15, 2018," McDaniel said in letters to school administrators, certified staff (which includes teachers), support staff, and professional technical staff.

Oklahoma City teachers are among those who get paid Aug. 15 and Aug. 31.

Bus driver arrested

Police on Tuesday arrested a Little Axe Public Schools bus driver after he was accused of engaging in lewd acts with a child. Norman police said an investigation of Billy Wayne Vuncannon, 40, began on July 26 after allegations emerged in their jurisdiction, according to a news release.

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Got a question, comment or story idea? Shoot me an email at

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›