TPS Superintendent Calls for Settlement with OPCSA’s “Relentless Attack” on Public Education
Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr Deborah Gist said she was considering legal action against the state’s multi-million dollar settlement with the Oklahoma Public Charter Schools Association. She said she believed the move was illegal and unethical.
“In the midst of this international emergency, our school systems are under relentless attack by our own heads of state,” said Dr Gist.
The state school board settled a four-year lawsuit with the Oklahoma Public Charter Schools Association, which said public and charter schools should be funded similarly.
“Our public schools are under attack. If this decision is upheld, it will require precious resources from our children’s classrooms to further strengthen Epic’s private interests,” said Gist. “This is also another case where those of us on the ground serving children are pitted against each other because of these inappropriate and unsupported actions.”
In 2017, the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association sued the state Board of Education, saying charter schools and public schools should receive equal funding.
The resolution, approved by 4-3 board members on Thursday, now says public and charter schools should receive funding in the same way. Trent Smith of the Yukon, Estala Hernandez of Putnum City, Brian Bobek and Jennifer Monies both of Oklahoma City voted for the measure.
Governor Kevin Stitt issued a statement applauding the decision, saying:
“I commend the State Board of Education for its legal decision to uphold the current law and affirm that charter schools are public schools.
“This decision is the right one for Oklahoma students. The COVID pandemic has shown us that students learn in different ways and that there is no one school for every student. Students in public schools should not be punished for succeeding in a charter school. In addition, the existing law makes it clear that charter schools are eligible for local income.
“The Council of State’s decision is a legal solution to a problem that has existed for years and predates my term as governor. But let me be clear: I was hired to bring fresh eyes to all areas of government, including, and perhaps most importantly, how we educate future generations. Oklahoma’s 40-plus-year-old stagnant approach isn’t working. To be ranked in the top five states in the country for education is unacceptable to me and I know it is unacceptable to Oklahoma. in the same way.”
Essentially said she was discussing with other school districts the next steps.
“My goal is to make sure people are paying attention and that we all need to take action and we need to have our voices heard on how much we rely on our public schools and how much we love our public schools,” Gist said.
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister did not support this settlement, as did board members in Tulsa and Claremore. The news of the 6 reached Hofmeister as well as the members of the board of directors who voted yes. News on 6 did not receive a response.
For more information on the regulation, visit the State Board of Education website here.