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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

FLOWER, Otis P. (Unknown--Unknown). The announcement that Otis P. Flower would succeed James H. HARRIS as Dubuque's superintendent of schools was made on May 21, 1925. The board's plans including the introduction of the junior high system and the extension of the manual arts and domestic science program departments of the senior high schools made it "seem wise to select someone with actual experience in those fields."

Sixty applications for the position were received. Flower was a graduate of the Miami, Ohio university with a bachelor's and master's degree. His professional courses had been taken at the State Normal School at Oxford, Ohio; Chicago University and the University of Iowa. He had eighteen years of experience in school work including elementary teacher, high school teacher, elementary principal, high school principal, and city superintendent in Oskaloosa, Iowa since 1913. During his time as superintendent, the high school population had more than doubled. (1)

On May 25, 1925 after the room was cleared by police, the board of education asked for Flower to resign. In its resolution the board stated:

            For the purpose of eliminating the spirit of sectarianism
            which has found its way into our schools, rebuilding the
            morale of our teaching force, reviving the old spirit of
            good feeling among our people, and promoting the interests
            of our school generally, the board of education deems it
            a necessary prerequisite towards that end that the services
            Mr. O. P. Flower as superintendent be terminated. (2)

At issue appeared to be whether Flower, as superintendent, had hired Catholics as teachers. Notes of the closed meeting indicated that at a previous meeting a board member had stated that Flower had never hired a Catholic. In looking into the records, however, another board member found that Flower had hired five. This was "argued for some time." A request for Flower's resignation was issued.

On July 17, 1925 it was announced that the board members chose to rescind their request for his resignation. (3) The position, however, was advertised when his contract came up to renewal and Charles Prail was considered a top contender until he withdrew. There was then an outpouring of public support, printed in the Telegraph-Herald, for the re-appointment of Flower for another three-years. (4)

There were eighty-five applications for the position when the board met in May, 1926. Among those was one coming from Fred G. STEVENSON the former high school principal who was then serving as as a high school principal in Saginaw, Michigan. (5) It was announced on May 11, 1926 that a banquet and program honoring retiring Superintendent Flower would be held at DUBUQUE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL on May 13th.

In 1927 Flower was selected with several Columbia University men to conduct a survey for the Columbia Educational Service Bureau in some of the largest cities in the United States. In January he had just completed a survey of a large unnamed city in Texas and made recommendations for its improvement. He was then to be assigned to a city in Florida. (6)



1. "O.P. Flower to Succeed J. H. Harris," Telegraph Herald, May 15, 1921, p. 20

2. "Supt. O. P. Flower Asked to Resign School Post," Telegraph Herald, May 25, p. 4

3. "Discharge of O. P. Flower is Rescinded," Telegraph Herald, July 17, 1925 p. 1

4. "Petitions to School Directors," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, April 13, 1926, p. 5

5. "85 Applications for School Post," Telegraph-Herald, May 2, 1926, p. 11

6. "Flower in College Work," Telegraph-Herald, January 23, 1927, p. 5