MOYERS, OK -- A small town school superintendent in Oklahoma stood up against the state today and won.
On Sunday, April 20th five students at Moyers Public School lost their parents in a tragic car accident. The next day Superintendent Donna Dudley asked the Oklahoma State Board of Education for an emergency exemption on the state standardized test for two of those students. That request was denied.
Two of the five students have yet to take the test and Dudley thinks they shouldn't have to.
"I have made the decision to go against the S.D.E. rules and exempt these students from taking their tests," said Dudley. "This may or may not cause our school to receive an F on our school report card for not meeting our testing percentage, but it is the only decision that best meets the needs of our students."
Residents in Moyers are standing behind their superintendent's decision.
"I think they should exempt the kids, it's in the best interest for them," said resident Sarah Brooks. "I would hate to know, if I was in that situation as a student, that I would have to worry about that with everything else going on."
"If it was me I would exempt them," said resident Janet Williams. "They can't grieve for their parents."
Dudley expressed her concern for the students on the school's Facebook page and in less than 24-hours the story went viral. It even garnered attention at the State Capitol, when State Senator Jerry Ellis organized a news conference Wednesday in support of Dudley.
"I shouldn't of had to waste time on this," said Ellis. "Just crazy. It's totally uncalled for."
After numerous calls and complaints the Oklahoma State Department of Education reversed their decision and exempted the students from testing.
Superintendent Donna Dudley's post on Moyers Public School Facebook page:
"In my 25 years in education I have seen many changes. As a teacher, principal and superintendent, I have always tried to make these changes adapt to our particular school in a way that follows the guidelines but also takes into consideration the individual child. This has worked relatively well as I feel that we follow state guidelines and our students' needs are always considered. Personally, as an educator, I have always felt that too much emphasis has been placed on testing but if that is what is required by individuals more qualified than myself, then that is what we will do. However, with that being said, I find myself in a very difficult position. We have a family of students whose parents were both killed in a car accident this week. When our district test administrator called the State Department of Education to ask for an emergency exemption for these students, it was denied. This is not considered a reason for exemption by the SDE. The SDE believes these students should be tested and their scores be used to not only judge them but also used to evaluate their teachers and their school at a time in their life that is unimaginable to most. So as administrator of our district, I have made the decision to go against the SDE rules and exempt these students from taking their tests. This may or may not cause our school to receive an "F" on our school report card for not meeting our testing percentage but it is the only decision that best meets the needs of our students. As an educator and a human being with a reasonable amount of common sense, I don't feel like any test these students take during this time would be valid in any way. Testing and its importance are quickly escalating out of control and our common sense appears to be going in the opposite direction."