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Morning Bell: At least 14 arrests made over school arrests

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Good Friday morning. 

In an analysis of law enforcement records and news reports, The Oklahoman has found at least 14 arrests made across the state since Feb. 14, the day of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Nearly all of the arrests have been of students who posted a threat on social media, such as Facebook or Instagram. Most of the threats appear to be hoaxes, based on law enforcement and school district statements.

The state's school threat tip line has also seen an increase in reports.

Sixteen of the 18 tips submitted in 2018 have come since Feb. 14, according to Jennifer Newell, program manager of the Oklahoma School Security Institute, which manages the tip line.

You can read more in today's story about an increase in threats and talk over school security. 

Former football players charged in Bixby rape investigation 

A special prosecutor filed charges Thursday against four former football players in the Bixby High School rape investigation, reports Andrea Eger of the Tulsa World

Charged as youthful offenders in Tulsa County District Court are Colton Cable, 17; Samuel Isaiah Lakin, 17; William Henry Thomas, 17; and Joe Wood, 16. They each face one count of second-degree rape by instrumentation.

Longtime Superintendent Kyle Wood was forced out of Bixby Public Schools in a resignation agreement with the local school board on Dec. 19, nearly three months after a student says he was raped with a pool cue for the second time at a high school football team event at the superintendent’s house.

Putnam City wins governor's arts award 

Putnam City Schools was honored this week at the 42nd Governor's Arts Awards. From The Oklahoman's Brandy McDonnell: The Putnam City school district is growing its fine arts programs at a time when shrinking budgets are prompting many public schools to cut the arts. Brandy Sitts, the district's curriculum coordinator for fine arts and gifted programs, said studies have found ties between participation in arts programs and higher academic achievement as well as lower dropout rates.

“Putnam City really believes that the arts are an integral part of a child's education and their mental and emotional development. We have fine arts programs at every single one of our sites,” she said.

Tulsa schools suspending fewer students

Tulsa Public Schools is suspending fewer kids but for more days, trying to balance punishment with restorative practices because of widely held beliefs that suspensions don’t do anything to change behavior and kids don’t learn if they aren’t in school. According to Samuel Hardiman of the Tulsa World, suspension rates — the percent of unique students suspended — have fallen at 67 TPS school sites this school year.

“We saw a greater reduction than we were anticipating, which was a positive thing,” said TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist, referring to the drop in suspension rates. “At the same time we have to make sure that we aren’t over-correcting, and so that’s what we’re watching really closely.”

Chronic absences lead to lower test scores

More than one out of 10 Oklahoma students are “chronically absent,” missing more than a tenth of the school year, leading to lower test scores and higher dropout rates, according to the annual ImpactTulsa report released Tuesday, reports the Tulsa World

Among high school students, more than 16 percent are chronically absent, with nearly 12 percent of middle-school students and more than 9 percent of grade-school students also missing a significant number of days.

“It is an early warning indicator,” the report concludes, “for both low achievement and dropping out of high school.”

Bartlesville discusses suspending classes

Bartlesville teachers, parents and other members of the community met Wednesday evening to discuss the logistics of a possible suspension of classes in April, according to NewsOn6. The school board said they're considering this because they want to stand up to state lawmakers and show them they have a voice.

Enid considering how to handle walkout

Enid Public Schools administrators are asking for input from students and weighing options for how the district would handle student walkouts protesting gun violence and memorializing recent mass shooting victims, reports the Enid News & Eagle

State fair scholarship limited to 10

Oklahoma high school seniors can apply for the 2018 Oklahoma State Fair Scholarship through March 30. Applicants must attend a college, university, vocational or technical school in Oklahoma.

The competition is open to students in all 77 counties who are graduating this year from an accredited high school or home school. Ten winners will receive a one-time award of $2,500. Click here for more information.

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great weekend! See you Monday. 

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›

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