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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

School Foundation Explains Its Role in Porter Settlement

The Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation issued a communique explaining the part it played in the financial settlement with former Superintendent John Q. Porter. Evidently, there has been some concern that the money used to "pay off" Dr. Porter was taken out of Foundation scholarships and grants.

Below is the text of their letter:

Dear Principals and Teachers,

In the past few days and weeks, you have undoubtedly been reading many stories and hearing many reports about the serious issues between the Oklahoma City Public School District and former Superintendent John Q. Porter, as well as about the settlement of those issues and the role that Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation played in the settlement. Since those public announcements, we have fielded many questions about the Foundation’s role in the process, and we want to give you the facts on the Foundation’s involvement.

The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that is governed by a Board of Trustees; it is not a part of the School District nor is it governed by the School District. However, the Foundation’s entire reason for existence is to support the Oklahoma City Public School District – our mission is to facilitate collaboration between the community and the schools and to improve the quality of education for all students in the District.

Foundation programs, such as, Great Idea Team Grants, Student Scholarships, Arts Education Grants, National Board Scholarships, Stars of Education, Student InCENTives, or any other Foundation programs have not been affected in any way by this settlement agreement.

Donations received by the Foundation, both in the past and in the future, will continue to fund these vital educational initiatives for the educators and students in the Oklahoma City School District.

The Foundation did not specifically solicit donors to help the District fund the settlement agreement. During the week of January 7, several private donors approached the Foundation to ask whether the Foundation could play a role in facilitating a settlement between the School Board and the superintendent. Those donors assured the Foundation that they would fund any amounts needed for the settlement process that were in excess of amounts the School Board could pay, and the donors further assured the Foundation that these donations would be over and above the regular gifts that they give to the Foundation.

As stated in the Foundation’s press release, no donations or pledges previously made to the Foundation for other purposes were used to assist the District in finalizing the settlement. Only new monies that were donated specifically to fund the settlement process were used.

We hope these facts will answer any questions that you may have had. We are honored to serve the teachers and students of Oklahoma City Public Schools. We look forward to continuing opportunities to work with you in the future. Please contact us at (405) 879-2007 or at ocpsf-mj@swbell.net or ocpsf-rh@swbell.net if you have any further questions.

Very truly yours,

Mary Marks Jenkins,Executive Director
Robyn Hilger, Partners in Education Director

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