Moore Public Schools calls for teachers to return to class Thursday

One of the largest school districts in the state is asking for teachers to return to class.

Moore Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Romines announced Wednesday that school leadership had determined it was time to resume class beginning April 12.

In a letter to employees, parents and students, Romines thanks teacher for "their diligence" at the State Capitol during the eight day walkout. Romines says that the school will continue to send a delegation of three to five staff members from each school site to the Capitol.

Romines cites several reasons for the return to class, including students, "consideration of families' work schedules and child care" and the fact that lawmakers are not prepared to meet teacher's original demands.

At a town hall-style meeting in Moore Wednesday evening, teachers expressed their frustrations to Superintendent Romines about his decision. Many felt completely caught off guard by the announcement.

“I apologize for the way and the timeliness of how that went out, that was not my intent,” Romines told the crowd. “It was not.”

Several teachers asked why they weren’t surveyed before the district made the decision.

“We’ve been get surveys all week on whether we’ve been intending to go to the Capitol or not and that was determining whether school would be closed,” said teacher Whitney Randell. “We didn’t get a survey today. We just got blindsided with the announcement we’re going to have school tomorrow, and that didn’t sit well with a lot of our teachers.”

Romines says he was told the teacher survey results were skewed by people answering the questions on multiple computers. He also said he believed the Oklahoma Education Association was working on an exit strategy to get teachers back in the classroom, and that factored into the decision.

“He acted like there was already a plan in place and we knew nothing about it,” said teacher Chris Wright. “I feel misinformed and I feel a little betrayed.”

Wright plans to be a part of the walkout despite his school opening tomorrow.

“I’ve put in my personal leave, and my kids will not be attending school,” he said. “We’ll be marching at the Capitol Thursday.”

Dozens of other educators, parents, and students said they would also be at the Capitol tomorrow. Several metro school districts have announced they will remain closed on Thursday.

Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, released this statement in support of Romines' decision:

“Robert Romines is one of the finest men and educators I know. He is a fierce advocate, and his love for his community and children is genuine. The unfortunate situation in Moore this evening is a direct result of the Oklahoma Education Association’s mixed messages and failure to identify a clear path that encourages teachers to return to the classroom.

Superintendents and school boards across Oklahoma have shown emphatic support for our state’s teachers as they lobbied legislators for improved education funding — and those efforts have helped ensure a half-billion dollars in new funding for schools. That’s something to celebrate.

It’s unacceptable that Dr. Romines and other education leaders are vilified for trying to act in the best interest of students. The walkout and focus on public education has been incredibly unifying, and I believe we’ll continue to see our communities, teachers and education leaders rise up for students and their education.

Advocacy for public education never stops, and I know superintendents and school board members support and will continue to encourage their teachers to be advocates even after they return to their classrooms. The efforts of teachers have created momentum to ensure that ongoing investment in education is the new normal and that those who want to represent Oklahomans at the state Capitol must support a long-term funding plan for competitive teacher pay and well-resourced classrooms.”

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