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Tulsa Transition Academy is moving to the former Grimes Elementary High School

Tulsa Transition Academy is moving to the former Grimes Elementary High School

Tulsa Transition Academy is moving to the former Grimes Elementary High School

Tulsa Transition Academy will have a new location in August.

As part of its consent, the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education approved a trio of agenda items Monday night to renovate the former Grimes Elementary School and house the Tulsa Transition Academy on the west side starting in school year 2024-25.

Grimes, at 3213 E. 56th St., closed at the end of the 2019-20 school year and is now home to Tulsa Virtual Academy. As approved by the board, the two programs will share the building and be separated by doors that could only be opened by a coded badge similar to the security protocols between Mayo Demonstration School and Wilson Teaching and Learning Academy, 11th Street and Columbia Avenue.

The Tulsa Transition Academy was created in response to House Bill 1041, which the Legislature approved in April 2023 to provide an alternative degree pathway for the approximately 1 percent of special education students statewide who have the most significant cognitive disabilities.

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It is a school continuation for students who have received special education services in high school, have earned an alternative diploma, and are identified as needing additional support in developing life skills. Students can participate after graduating from high school until they are 22 years old.

Currently operating out of Hale High School and serving 13 students in its inaugural year, Tulsa Transition Academy is expected to add 20 to 25 students next year and eventually grow to more than 100 students within four years.

With the 2024-25 school year beginning in less than two months, renovations to accommodate the program at Grimes are scheduled to be done in phases through August 2025. Pending additional approval from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, the district plans to use funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to pay for the $3 million project.

TPS officials originally proposed moving the program to the former Ross Elementary School, 8934 E. Latimer St., which has not been used as a school since 1988 and currently houses the district’s Child Nutrition Program.

However, the location has drawn objections from both the family of at least one prospective student and Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond because of the number of registered sex offenders living near the campus.

State law requires sex offenders to stay at least 500 feet away from schools, parks and daycare centers at all times and live at least 2,000 feet away from them. However, state statutes include a grandfather clause that allows registered sex offenders to remain in their residence if a school, park or day care moves into their neighborhood after their conviction.

As of Monday afternoon, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ sex offender registry showed eight offenders living within a mile of each campus.

In addition to relocating Transition Academy in Tulsa, the board approved several Cabinet moves as part of Monday night’s consent agenda.

After serving in an in-house capacity since March, Kathy Dodd is the district’s assistant superintendent effective Tuesday. She succeeds Paula Shannon.

Effective Tuesday, director of talent management Tasha Johnson will be the new chief of staff.

Former TPS assistant superintendent and current Muskogee Public Schools assistant superintendent, Kimberly Dyce will be the district’s new chief talent officer effective July 8. Dyce was at TPS from 2013-2016.

Campus Police Chief Matthias Wicks will move to a new position, director of youth advocacy. The position was approved by the board in May and works specifically with alternative education students who are in the juvenile justice system.

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