Moyers superintendent exempts students from standardized test af - - No One Gets You Closer

Moyers superintendent exempts students from standardized test after tragedy

MOYERS, OK -- The same standardized test that gave thousands of Oklahoma students problems earlier this week is now giving one Texoma community even more stress. This time, though, it has nothing to do with technical glitches.

"I was shocked," Moyers resident Linda Kellett said.

People in Moyers are still trying to figure it out.

"That's ridiculous. It makes no sense," parent Beth Leinau said.

How could two students whose parents died over the weekend ever be expected to focus on a standardized test?

"The kids couldn't grieve for their parents and it was just unfair," Moyers resident Janet Williams said.

The two sisters are in the sixth grade at Moyers Public Schools.

Their parents, Rodney and Crystal Sutterfield, are two of the four people killed as a result of a car accident late Sunday night in Choctaw County.

Monday morning, the superintendent of Moyers Public Schools felt the girls were in no condition to take the standardized test being given statewide. They asked the Oklahoma State Department of Education to exempt them. But the district says the state told them only students with medical emergencies could be exempt.

"Losing one person that would be really close to you would be more than enough reason in my book," substitute teacher Sarah Brooks said.

Tuesday, superintendent Donna Dudley made an executive decision.

"So as administrator of our district," she wrote on Facebook, "I have made the decision to go against the SDE rules and exempt these students from taking their tests."

She added, it could mean the school gets an "F" grade which would be bad for teachers who are evaluated on how well students perform.

"Teachers here don't deserve that," Leinau said.

In a matter of hours, the post received a response from thousands of people praising the superintendent's bold move.

"I totally support her. I love Miss Dudley," Brooks said.

"In my opinion this should have never been in question. This is terrible," State Senator Jerry Ellis said. Wednesday, Ellis held a news conference at the state capitol to address the dispute which state superintendent Janet Barresi also caught wind of.

"A friend called me -- no one associated with this department -- just called and said this has got to be urban legend. There's no way that this could've happened," Barresi said.

The State Department of Education says it never told the district the students couldn't be exempt from the test. It said it recommended the district apply for the exemption after the testing window ends May 2.

None-the-less, after looking into the matter Wednesday morning, Barresi says she called the Moyers superintendent herself to let her know the students would be exempt after all.

Barresi said their absence will have no impact on the schools' overall test score. It's a relief for the Moyers school district, and an answer for anyone questioning whether to stand up for what they feel is right.

Funerals for the Sutterfields will be held Friday in Antlers.