Oklahoma school district says diploma is no indicator of learning

In a court filing, an Oklahoma school district has declared the issuance of either a passing grade or a high school diploma is not—“and never has been”—an indicator that a student mastered state-mandated core courses.

Lone Grove Public Schools also stated that any court order tethering a high-school diploma to mastery of high-school core course content could negatively impact all public schools in Oklahoma.

The district’s declaration was made in response to a lawsuit filed by 19-year-old Kolton Ellis, who is seeking to re-enroll as a fifth-year senior despite having received a diploma from the Lone Grove school district last spring.

Among other things, Ellis said—and Lone Grove officials do not deny—that the school gave him between a semester and a full year’s worth of credit for several classes based on as little as 43.5 minutes of online instruction per course.

“Defendants have undertaken a fraudulent scheme to deprive Plaintiff of a tuition-free public education which would adequately prepare him for mastery of state-mandated courses to simply push Plaintiff through the system,” a petition filed by Ellis’ attorneys stated.