On June 9th, just a few weeks after finishing the formal 2015-2016 school year, Holmes Park Elementary Principal Bobby Alfred, who has dedicated the last 42 years of his life to Sapulpa Public Schools, unexpectedly resigned.
A tenure as long as his—with 35 years of it being in administration—gave ample reason for retiring. His resignation letter—linked below—sheds more light on the reasoning behind his resignation.
The long and short of it is that he’s not happy, and in fact downright disappointed with the leadership at Sapulpa Public Schools, specifically Superintendent Kevin Burr, whose actions Alfred says have made Sapulpa Public Schools district “the laughing stock of this area.”
Sharing many of his successes in his letter, he begins with a story about one of the best honors Holmes Park has celebrated in recent history, which included a visit of Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin:
In 2015, Holmes Park raised its OSDE School Report Card, based on OCCT test scores and attendance, from a “D” to a “B”. This resulted in a congratulatory visit and commendation from Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin in April, 2016. The current Superintendent attempted to utilize Holmes Park’s celebratory meeting with the state’s highest official to make a political statement. He proceeded to tell her that, “We had a school which scored even higher,” referring to Freedom which had surpassed Holmes Park by only one point, 86% versus 85%. This was very disappointing and insulting to the Administrators, staff, students, and stakeholders in attendance.
Throughout the 8-page letter, Alfred gives examples of how Burr “utilizes negativity, fear, intimidation, and retaliation” in a work environment already fraught with currents of destabilization due to this year’s budget cuts. According to a recent Tulsa World article, the state of Oklahoma is facing $74.3 million in cuts to educational funding.
There are many successes that have followed Alfred’s tenure at Sapulpa Public Schools, and he gives note to several of them, but for nearly every success, there is an incident involving Superintendent Burr that recounts issues that sometimes border on silly (He asked that Alfred not refer to Holmes Park as the “Number One School,” any longer), and sometimes raise sharp questions (Why was Holmes Park not allowed access to the $40,000 of media equipment purchased by bond money specifically for that school?)
Despite his reservations about the leadership, Alfred maintains that the community has “tremendous respect for the school district,” and promises to “always remain a loyal Chieftain and supportive Holmes Park Husky.”
He signs off with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that seems to fit the situation accurately: “Whatever affects one directly, affects us all indirectly.”