OKLAHOMA CITY -- State Rep. Merleyn Bell, D-Norman, spoke at the Norman Public School Board meeting Monday night in support of teachers looking for accountability from Norman Public School administration.
“I receive messages every day regarding Norman Public Schools,” Bell told the board last night. “Especially teachers, who say ‘I don’t know what else to do. I’ve tried to voice my concerns, but they’re always shut down or dismissed.’ Or ‘I’m scared that if I say anything, I’ll be punished.’”
Bell says her constituents' requests are not being addressed by the current administration in a timely or constructive manner. An upcoming meeting to discuss specific issues with Norman’s superintendent, Dr. Nick Migliorino, had been scheduled for late September, nearly a month after Rep. Bell’s initial request.
“I know what it is to be busy, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt,” Bell said, “but when one of my legislative colleagues told me they’ve never waited nearly that long for a sit-down to discuss their concerns, the message became clear. Dr. Migliorino doesn’t take the concerns of my constituents seriously. It’s no wonder they now reach out to me on a daily basis instead.”
Bell made a point during her remarks last night to tell the board that her concerns about the current leadership extend beyond the superintendent’s ability to schedule a meeting in a timely fashion, saying “...this is not a personal grievance. This is about the people he was hired and I was elected to serve. When he makes me wait, he makes my constituents wait, and at this point, we are tired of waiting.”
Bell closed her comments at the board meeting last night, saying “There is a lack of brave leadership in this district. There is a lack of partnership with state leaders. There is a lack of respect for the people this administration is intended to serve. And there are people who still need answers. That’s why I still have a stack of emails, texts, and DMs from teachers and staff, parents and students who are fed up. My constituents deserve better. Norman Public Schools deserves better. I am a ready and willing partner, but a text won’t do. A meeting a month from now won’t do. The time for accountability is now.”
Bell posted a transcript of her comments on social media last night and has continued to receive messages from NPS teachers and others all applauding her actions. She says she appreciates the support but also has regrets she didn’t take action sooner.
“The messages I’ve received didn’t start coming in when the pandemic began. There is a long-standing pattern of neglect on the part of this administration. I just hope that by speaking up now, others will feel empowered to do the same.”