TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted 4-2 on Thursday to demote Tulsa Public Schools following a violation of the law put in place by House Bill 1775.
The board voted for a more severe penalty than recommended, ultimately demoting TPS to "accreditation with warning" instead of "accreditation with deficiency." "Accreditation with warning" means a school site fails to meet one or more of the standards and the deficiency seriously detracts from the quality of the school’s educational program.
The board's meeting included 30 minutes of public comment from seven speakers including State Rep. Regina Goodwin and Sec. of Education Ryan Walters. Goodwin had been asking for more transparency over the specifics of the violation that came from training given to district staff several months earlier.
The law put in place by House Bill 1775 prohibits teachings of particular subjects on race and sex in Oklahoma schools.
Board member Trent Smith was not present for the vote.
- Carlisha Williams Bradley voted no
- Jennifer Monies voted yes
- Estela Hernandez voted yes (seconded the motion)
- Sarah Lepak voted yes
- Brian Bobek voted yes (and brought up the motion)
- State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister voted no
Tulsa Public Schools released the following statement following Thursday's vote:
"In Tulsa, we are teaching our children an accurate - and at times painful, difficult, and uncomfortable - history about our shared human experience. We also teach in a beautifully diverse community and need our team to work together to be prepared to do that well.
To best do that and also to meet the state’s annual requirement that school districts offer a training about “race and ethnic education,” we provided a training that included the topic of implicit bias. In this training, it is clear there is no statement or sentiment pronounced that people are racist--due to their race or any other factor. We would never support such a training.
It is notable that Governor Stitt’s state board of education spent significant time today talking about the complaints of one teacher in our district (among the hundreds of accreditation deficiencies statewide) and no time on the catastrophic teacher shortage facing every district in our state.
We want Tulsa families to know:
- We do not teach a law school academic body of work known as “critical race theory” in our elementary and secondary schools.
- We are focused on your child’s educational success. That means every child in Tulsa.
We also want our families to know that despite the continued political drama and the worst possible conditions educators have ever faced in Oklahoma, we will stay focused on what matters most—our students.
Right now, we need to finish our summer camps and prepare for the start of school."
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