The State Board of Education (SBE) ordered the mandatory annexation of the Grant-Goodland Public School after a recommendation of annexation from the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE).
The Grant-Goodland district has been plagued by financial misconduct and numerous other issues related to special education services, falsifying records and failure to appropriately meet the needs of its 118 students.
The annexation of the district in southeastern Oklahoma was approved during an SBE special meeting. The dependent elementary school district serving PK-8th grade in Choctaw County has been designated academically at risk the past three school years.
In late January, the FBI investigated Grant-Goodland for suspected embezzlement after allegations that the local school board chair, district superintendent and deputy treasurer were endorsing and cashing checks made out to various school vendors. According to a recent independent audit issued by the local board’s CPA firm, the misconduct occurred numerous times and totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“The OSDE and the State Board will not tolerate financial corruption and a flagrant breach of the public trust in our public schools. Taxpayers have an expectation and should also have the confidence that their hard-earned education dollars are used for the benefit of Oklahoma schoolchildren,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “After an extensive review of all options, it was determined that closure of the district is in the best interest of students.”
The State Board of Education on March 24 approved an Order Granting State Intervention for Grant-Goodland, which required the district to submit a detailed school improvement plan for 2016-2017 and provide financial information to OSDE at least five days before each local board meeting.
According to OSDE, Grant-Goodland officials did not consistently provide financial information pursuant to the Board’s order. In addition, OSDE concluded that Grant-Goodland’s plan for 2016-2017 was unlikely to produce the results necessary to improve student academic performance.
OSDE recommended and the State Board approved the mandatory annexation of the district to Hugo Public Schools after public comment and consideration. Hugo is in close proximity to Grant-Goodland and can fiscally accommodate the move. In addition, graduating 8th grade students from Grant-Goodland have overwhelmingly attended high school in Hugo during the last three years.
Grant-Goodland students will not be required to attend Hugo Public Schools. Parents and guardians of Grant-Goodland students will be notified of the district’s dissolution and given 10 days from today’s board meeting to submit a transfer request to the State Superintendent indicating their preferred district to attend.
To the extent possible, the preference of students and parents will be taken into consideration. OSDE’s Office of School Support is prepared to assist Hugo during and after the transition.