State Board of Education Meeting Highlights
May 23, 2013
Tornado Damage Update
State Superintendent Janet Barresi updated State Board of Education members on tornado damage in the metro area – particularly in the Moore School District – during Thursday’s regularly scheduled board meeting.
Barresi said she has toured the site of devastation in Moore with Governor Mary Fallin. She also met with Moore Superintendent Susan Pierce, district administrators, board members and teachers from Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary Schools in Moore.
“We’re hearing stories of incredible heroism,” Barresi said. “We’ve heard of multiple teachers throwing themselves over children and taking the brunt of the storm, or packing children into bathrooms to keep them safe. The stories that are being told are unbelievable.”
Barresi said she heard of one teacher who was working with musical instruments in her classroom. She had taught the children the tune of “Jesus Loves Me.” When the storm hit, to keep her students calm, the teacher told them to try to play louder than the storm. When they couldn’t drown out the storm noise with the instruments, the teacher asked them to start singing.
“In a public school, children were singing ‘Jesus Loves Me,’” Barresi said.
“When I visit schools I say I see a miracle every day,” Barresi said. “Teachers are that miracle. Teachers all over this state show courage walking into their classrooms every day … being paid next to nothing for the work that they do. We will not forget their bravery. We will not forget their commitment.”
Barresi thanked those from her own and other state agencies that have stepped forward to help with recovery efforts in Moore. These include public information officials from the state CareerTech system as well as people at the State Department of Education who have worked with the American Red Cross to collect and distribute water, toiletries and other necessities to those in need.
Mark Williams, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross also addressed board members on Thursday.
He said the numbers of people staying in shelters is decreasing, but on Wednesday, the Red Cross served 4,000 meals to those displaced from the storm. The Baptist Men’s Ministry is transporting meals to people throughout the affected areas.
In a related item on Thursday’s board agenda, board members unanimously voted to grant 30-day extensions for the submission of various annual reports to the Moore School District. Board members agreed they will grant additional time if necessary.
In other business, the Board voted to continue discussion and possible action on the revocation of teaching certificates for Maurice Alonzo Parker and Gary Ray Cartwright.
The board voted unanimously to adopt emergency rules on student exceptions and exemptions related to graduation requirements for end-of-instruction exams, pursuant to House Bill 1756. The bill recently was signed into law as emergency legislation, making it effective immediately.