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Dr. Johnson steps into role as Tulsa Public Schools' interim superintendent

Dr. Ebony Johnson
Posted at 9:30 AM, Sep 19, 2023

TULSA, Okla. — The interim superintendent for Tulsa Public Schools officially took office.

September 15th marked Dr. Deborah Gist's last day as the superintendent of TPSand on Monday Dr. Ebony Johnson stepped in as the acting superintendent for the district.

State Superintendent Ryan Walters made a statement saying in part, "With new leadership in place, TPS has an opportunity to begin to turn the corner. Our kids deserve it, and the Tulsa community expects strong leadership dedicated to excellence and improving student outcomes."

In the board meeting on Monday, Dr. Johnson made her introductory remarks. In those remarks, she presented a strategic plan. It's a goal-monitoring plan.

She discussed one of the metrics used to understand if a student is academically ready to do college-level courses. The report looks at 10-12th grade students who meet the requirements for enrolling concurrently in college and career tech courses.
Specifically, it looks at their performance on the PSAT and SAT.

Dr. Johnson said the report is also a connection to their goals for MAP scores. She explained it helps them understand what students may need in order to pass assessments and enroll in secondary institutions.

She also went into more detail on the district's plans to help students improve in the classrooms and the initiatives that have started. Dr. Johnson said all the students are getting grade-level instructions and intervention support.

Ultimately, She noted it's important to her to foster better communication with families and make sure they know the goals set for students and schools and why.

This all stems from the Oklahoma State Board of Education reviewing TPS's accreditation status last month. The board voted to allow the district to keep its accreditation with deficiencies.

OSBOE: TPS accredited with deficiencies

Superintendent Walters told 2 News since that meeting, he's kept in contact with the district and Dr. Johnson to discuss the path forward with these improvements.

"We were able to talk through those expectations. It was a productive meeting. I want to see the district turn around, and I appreciate her comments around getting improvement fast at TPS," he said.

"Superintendent Walters and I did have a meeting a few weeks back; that information is very public," Dr. Johnson said. "He came to Tulsa Public Schools in person, and we did have an opportunity to talk about both expectations and supports. Since then, I've been in touch with several of his team members regarding continuous reach out. We have a meeting coming up, I believe, later this week with one of his team members, academic officer Lofton. So that we can discuss literacy, our literacy plan, science of reading and then what our presentation could and may look like on the 28th."

When 2 News asked Dr. Johnson if the state helped with creating these plans, here is what she said.

"We are in the very beginning of what this is going to look like as far as our level of collaboration. As you know, there was an ask that we come in on a monthly basis in order to develop the plan together. We have not yet actually gotten to a point where we are actually utilizing something that they have given us to use or vice versa as far as exchange. Our first meeting is coming up," she said.

Walters said he has been keeping in contact with Dr. Johnson, and he's given her a timeline to hand over a plan. He adds that the date for that is coming up soon.

Dr. Johnson is scheduled to have a sit down with 2 News Oklahoma's Naomi Keitt on Sept. 19. Join us Tuesday night for that interview.

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