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A newly hired executive assistant at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics comes from another school accused of ignoring sexual harassment complaints. 

The Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics this month announced it has hired Talita DeNegri, who resigned from Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in December 2021 after an investigation revealed the school under her leadership failed to address student complaints of sexual abuse. 

Her hire comes just weeks after the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics in Oklahoma City was served with a lawsuit from a former employee, alleging sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and a toxic and misogynistic culture have gone unchecked for years. 

The Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, a publicly funded, residential school for academically gifted juniors and seniors, was the focus of an Oklahoma Watch story published Monday.

According to the lawsuit, filed by Keli Pueblo, who worked at the school for six years: a male administrator made explicit comments about women’s bodies; a former dorm director was hired despite having been charged with driving under the influence and having two temporary restraining orders against him; male professors spoke sexually toward students, faculty and staff; a longtime vice president had multiple affairs with women on campus, including in his office. 

The school on Aug. 2 announced on their website and Facebook page that DeNegri was hired to work with President Tony Cornforth, who in June was named the school’s new president. Cornforth declined to be interviewed by Oklahoma Watch but, in a written statement, said he was “absolutely committed to continuing a professional, positive, and healthy workplace at OSSM.”

At Mount St. Mary’s, a parochial school in Oklahoma City, DeNegri and other school leaders were accused of fostering a toxic environment, covering up reports of sexual abuse and blaming victims, according to The Oklahoman

Students in 2022 filed a lawsuit against Mount St. Mary’s, alleging the school fostered a rape culture and the victims didn’t know it was a systematic problem until the story was reported in the news. 

A federal judge Monday granted the school’s motion to dismiss, agreeing with the school’s legal argument that because more than two years had passed, the statute of limitations has run out. In the judge’s order, he noted that the students can amend their claims.

Comments, questions, story tips? Please reach out via email or direct message.

— Jennifer Palmer

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