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Morning Bell: State board approves Native American charter school

Good Friday morning! The state Board of Education gave approval to a proposed charter school that wants to focus on Native American students.

The Sovereign Community School plans to eventually serve 500 mostly American Indian students through culturally sensitive curriculum and other support services. It wants to open in Oklahoma City, but the OKCPS school board had originally denied the application. 

The school took its application to the board on appeal. The state board's vote not only gives the school permission to open, but it also makes the state Board of Education the school's sponsor. 

"If you have an indigenous identity, and maybe you are super connected to it and maybe you're not, this will be a really good place for you," said Phil Gover, the lead applicant for Sovereign Community School.

You can read more about the school here

There are more than 1,100 American Indian students in Oklahoma City Public Schools and cultural identity can be a challenge for some urban Native youth. While Oklahoma City schools have more Native students than most districts, those students are spread out among nearly 100 schools, which can make it tough for a student to see others who share the same cultural identity.

Connecting Native students with each other can be especially important in an urban school system, said George Shields, director of Indian Education for Putnam City Schools.

"In a rural setting, a lot of Native kids are going to get to see grandma and grandpa, uncles and aunts, and feel more connected to their family and their heritage," Shields said. "Our kids don't get that. A lot of the (Native American) families in my district have moved here for a job and it might involve taking that student out of their culture."

State board sets new record for emergency certified teachers

The state Board of Education has approved more than 2,100 emergency teacher certificates for the new school year, putting thousands of unlicensed and non traditionally-trained teachers in classrooms across Oklahoma. 

The state board approved 916 emergency certificates at Thursday’s board meeting, bringing the 2018-19 school year total to 2,153, surpassing the state record in just three months

“We are now experiencing the full weight” of a teacher shortage, said Joy Hofmeister, the state’s superintendent of public instruction. 

Threat source identified 

The FBI has identified a person in California who authorities say made a threatening telephone call to the Oklahoma School for the Deaf, reports News On 6.

The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services says the school about 75 miles south of Oklahoma City, closed after receiving the threat on August 16. Officials said at the time they believed the call was linked to threats against a transgender student who attends another school that was closed over safety concerns.

More details on Luther school stabbing

A teenage girl who was stabbed at Luther High School last week told investigators the boy accused of stabbing her had repeatedly tried to start a romantic relationship with her.

About 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 16, students were gathered for an assembly in the school’s auditorium when a 14-year-old boy stood up and repeatedly stabbed a 14-year-old girl. The boy and the victim were friends, but Luther police Chief David Randall said the boy wanted a relationship.

New alternative school opens in Tulsa

Tulsa gained a brand new school Wednesday tailored to suit some of the city’s most vulnerable students, reports the Tulsa World

A second Street School location opened with a ribbon-cutting featuring big names in Oklahoma education, and the big donors that helped make it happen.

Tulsa’s first Street School opened in 1973 with the aim of helping kids in grades 9-12 that, for one reason or another, couldn’t find success in a traditional classroom.

Now with a second location, many more students will have access to the sort of support and learning environment they need, Street School CEO Lori McGinnis-Madland said.

“The students that seek out Street School typically have very unique needs. Often, we have students who have experienced lots of trauma,” she said. 

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great weekend!

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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 ›