acting superintendent

Oklahoma City Public Schools’ acting superintendent has distributed a letter to district personnel in an apparent attempt to boost morale. The letter quotes Robert Frost, discusses “stages of grief” and opens by noting that “today is a day that we need to talk about feelings.”

Rebecca Kaye, who served as district chief of staff under Aurora Lora, was approved as acting superintendent Monday night by the OKCPS Board. Lora announced her resignation Tuesday, which took effect at the end of business hours Wednesday.

Thursday, OKCPS communications staff sent media two letters from Kaye. The first was addressed to district employees, and the second — a shorter but demonstrably similar version — was addressed to parents of students.

OKCPS’s Beth Harrison noted that Kaye would not be available for interviews. Kaye’s letter to district staff appears here in full:

Dear OKCPS Family,

Today is a day that we need to talk about feelings.

I am sad. I suspect many of you are too. Or you might be angry or disappointed or just plain tired. And that’s okay. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) look very similar, no matter what kind of loss we face as human beings. As Robert Frost wrote, “The only way out is through.” I hope today that you know that I am holding each member of the OKCPS team in my heart. I can only imagine how hard it must be to have been through this kind of transition…over and over again.

I am also determined. I felt called to come here when I said “yes” to OKCPS in the fall of 2016 because my gut told me that this system had all the needed ingredients in place to prove that real, transformational change for kids can happen – no gimmicks and no magic wands.

In the past 13 months, I have learned so much about this community, and I am even more sure today that we have what we need.

• We have incredible professionals in cafeterias, classrooms, gymnasiums, yellow buses and departments across this district who come to work with hearts for children.
• We have a school board that is united with us in the belief that we have work to do – meaningful, hard, important work – and that we have to find a way to do it together.
• We have a community that rallies, time and time again, to make remarkable things happen.
• We have families who entrust us with the sacred responsibility of caring for their most precious resource, day in and day out.
• Most importantly, we have 46,000 amazing students who blow me away every day with their brilliance, grace and resilience to adversity.

The wisdom we need is in this system.

I appreciate you all, and I thank you for showing up for kids every day. As the proud parent of two flourishing Gatewood Gators, this is not just a job for me. You hold the future of my family and of our democracy in your hands.

My top priority is to care for our team because I know this hurts. I need your help with that, so my charge to you today is this: take care of yourself and your colleagues. This is not easy work, even under the best of circumstances. Our hearts get broken a lot. The only way we can stay strong is to remember that we are in this together. Together we will heal. Together we will rise.

Stay strong. I am here for you.

Love and courage,
Rebecca Kaye

Fast facts about superintendent situation

OKCPS also released a list of facts about Lora’s resignation and Kaye’s appointment. Those appear here after minor edits:

Aurora Lora: resignation agreement and salary information

  • The specific terms and conditions of her resignation are still being negotiated by legal counsel and will hopefully be presented to the board at the Feb. 12, 2018, meeting.
  • Her resignation is effective at the close of business on Feb. 1. In accordance with board policy, as previously stated she will be paid for accrued unused leave. Her employee benefits will remain in effect until Feb. 28.
  • Ms. Lora will be compensated for accrued leave in accordance with District policy.
  • She will not be paid the two-year $10,000 longevity bonus.
  •  As associate superintendent, Lora was paid $175,016. During the time that she assumed the duties of the Superintendent for a few months in the spring/summer of 2016, she was not given any additional compensation.
  • Aurora’s salary at the time she was hired in July 2016: $220,000
  • Aurora’s salary at the time of resignation in February 2018: $220,000
  • The district will work with Lora to schedule a time that she can return her district property and gather personal belongings.

Rebecca Kaye: roles, responsibilities and salary

  • Rebecca Kaye will continue her duties as chief of staff, in addition to taking on the role of acting superintendent.
  • The board will consider and may approve any changes in compensation for Kaye while serving as acting superintendent.
  •  Kaye is certified as a superintendent, as well as a principal in both elementary and secondary levels.
William W. Savage III (Tres) has served as NonDoc's editor in chief since the publication's launch in September 2015. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and covered two sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature for before working in health care for six years. He is a nationally certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.