David Holt
Nate Robson
Nate Robson

April 24, 2015

A bill that was expected to quietly die in the Oklahoma Senate has found new life as legislation that allows the state’s two largest cities to create their own charter schools.

House Bill 1696 was originally written to allow for the creation of charter schools, overseen by school districts, in all districts across the state. After a similar bill was sent to Gov. Mary Fallin last week, some lawmakers thought HB 1696 would be forgotten.

Falling signed the bill allowing charter schools statewide on Friday.

On Wednesday, the Senate adopted and passed an amendment from Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, that rewrote the bill to allow Tulsa and Oklahoma City to create charter schools.

Holt withdrew a similar bill earlier in the session.

The amended bill is headed back to the House.

Holt said he believes he now has the support to pass the bill since his amendment gives Tulsa and Oklahoma City public schools the chance to veto the charter. The original bill did not include that provision, he added.

“Polling tells us parents want more choice,” Holt said. “I know I’m on the right side of public opinion. I’m on the right side of history.”

Rep. Lee Denney
Rep. Lee Denney

Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, who helped author the bill expanding charter schools statewide, said she doubts Holt’s amended bill will surive the House.

“I think the House has already done everything it wants to do with charter schools this year,” she said.

On Friday, Fallin said signing the bill expanding charter schools statewide ensures students are  prepared for life after graduation.

“This legislation provides more local control for parents and school administrators,” Fallin said. “Increasing education options will give students greater opportunities to succeed in the classroom and allow students to graduate with skill-sets necessary to go to college or into a career.”

Nate Robson can be reached at nrobson@oklahomawatch.org

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