Deborah Brown school vacates Union Depot amid tussle with Tulsa County
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
9/19/12 at 8:15 AM
The Deborah Brown Community School vacated the Union Depot on Tuesday, obeying an order by the Tulsa County Industrial Authority, but a county official indicated that class could be back in session in the building soon.
Millard Jones, the school's administrator, said 68 children in fourth through sixth grades who had been attending classes at the depot, 111 E. First St., were taken to the school's other facility, 2 E. Elgin Ave., on Tuesday morning.
Classes will continue there until the problem is resolved, Jones said.
The charter school is caught in a struggle between the county Industrial Authority, which owns the depot, and the Jazz Hall of Fame, which has a no-rent lease for it.
On Monday, the Industrial Authority ordered the school to vacate the building because the school did not have a certificate of use, which is a city permit verifying compliance with code standards, and because the Jazz Hall wasn't authorized to permit new tenants in the building without the authority's approval.
Earlier this month, the Industrial Authority notified the Jazz Hall that it was in default on its lease and had until early October to come into compliance or face lease termination.
According to the notice provided to the Jazz Hall, the lease violations include the late payment of insurance and downtown assessment and utility fees totaling more than $60,000.
The notice also cited the unpermitted use of the building by the school.
The Industrial Authority has called a special meeting for Thursday to consider the school's status in the building again.
The school is expected to show county officials that the certificate of use has been signed, and county officials may allow the students to return, at least until the October deadline for the Jazz Hall.
County Commissioner John Smaligo, chairman of the Industrial Authority's board, said that based on the supportive statements from other authority members, he would anticipate the school's being allowed to return to the building if the safety concerns are resolved.
That will not resolve the Industrial Authority's problems with the Jazz Hall, however, Smaligo said.
Jones said the school has invested more than $100,000 in remodeling parts of the Union Depot for school use, and it did so with the intent of being there for a long time.
The students were never in an unsafe place and were never in danger of not having a place to go to school, he said.
The city's first charter school, the Deborah Brown school has about 225 students in kindergarten through third grade at its Elgin Street location in addition to the 68 students who had been at the Union Depot site, he said.
The school emphasizes home involvement in the education of children and classroom discipline, Jones said.
Original Print Headline: Charter school vacates depot - for now
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
Children depart the Deborah Brown Community School at 2 E. Elgin Ave. after classes Tuesday. The school relocated 68 students from its classrooms at the Jazz Hall of Fame to the Elgin campus on Tuesday because of a county order. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Keturah Keys picks up her daughter Ja'Lia, 4, after school Tuesday at the Deborah Brown Community School, 2 E. Elgin Ave. The school has been caught up in an ongoing struggle between the county Industrial Authority and the Jazz Hall of Fame. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World