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TPS, OKCPS files lawsuit to stop new funding plan

Tulsa Public Schools
Posted at 7:49 AM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 12:32:40-04

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Public Schools and Oklahoma City Public Schools are suing to prevent a huge shift in tax dollars from public schools to charter schools.

The districts ask for a temporary restraining order and injunction to stop the Oklahoma State Board of Education from implementing the new funding plan.

In March, Trent Smith, the governor's newest appointee to the board, made a surprise motion to change the way tax dollars flow to charter schools as Bill 2078.

The motion passed, meaning property tax dollars will be equally distributed between public and charter schools, including virtual schools like Epic Charter Schools.

The Oklahoma Constitution states that local resources of revenue, such as property taxes, can only be for school districts' usage.

Last Thursday, the Oklahoma State Board of Education voted 4-3 to equalize funding between public school districts and charter schools by approving an unexpected resolution in a four-year-old case involving charter school funding.

State Superintendent of Instruction Joy Hofmeistervoted and advised against the motion.

Gov. Kevin Stitt later signed Bill 2078 and another education bill on March 31, 2021. Bill 2078 will be effective July 1, 2021.

"There can be no doubt that this unlawful action, if successful, will have a significant impact on our OKCPS students, as well as public school students in every district in Oklahoma -- especially at a time when common education is already critically underfunded," OKCPS Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel shared.

The lawsuit, which lists both public school districts as the defendants, was filed on March 31, 2021.

"We are in full support of Oklahoma City Public Schools' cross-claims. We are in the process of preparing our own response to the Oklahoma State Board of Education's action and expect to move forward in the next few days," Tulsa Public Schools states.

This story has been updated with a statement by TPS.

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